Game Awards Grows Viewership to 45 Million Live Streams

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'Devil May Cry 5' director Hideaki Itsuno accepts the award for best action game.

The sixth annual awards show celebrating the video game industry delivered its biggest audience yet last week.

The Game Awards racked up more than 45.2 million global live streams during its sixth annual broadcast last Thursday. The figure represents a 73 percent increase from 2018's 26.2 million live streams, which was itself a record. 

The show, which streamed live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, was offered for free across more than 50 digital networks — including YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook Live — and each of the top 13 platforms that carried the show saw double-digit increases in viewership year-over-year. Fan voting for this year's show was also up 50 percent from 2018, as more than 15.5 million global audience members logged their votes across a variety of platforms.

The Game Awards was executive produced by host and creator Geoff Keighley. Kimmie H. Kim also exec produced this year's show. LeRoy Bennett served as creative director and Rich Preuss as director.

"It’s surprising I have to say. I thought last year was the peak of things," Keighley tells The Hollywood Reporter of this year's viewership numbers. "What’s nice is that it’s not just one place. Pretty much all the platforms that we aired on saw double-digit growth."

Internationally, the show was streamed on more than a dozen networks in China, with live distribution in other countries such as Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil and India. The Game Awards 2019 hit a peak concurrent viewership of more than 7.5 million viewers globally.

"We've added in more global distribution. We did some stuff in India this year for the first time. China continues to be a really strong territory," says Keighley. "I can't put my finger on one specific thing, but I think it's just a general rise in live-streaming has increased global awareness."

Keighley notes that the show has been "maturing and growing" over the past six years and booking bigger acts (like Green Day and The Muppets, both scene-stealers at this year's show) also helps bring in a wider audience. Ultimately, though, Keighley credits the decision to present the show through live-streaming platforms (rather than on traditional television) as the ultimate driver of success. 

"We kind of made a bet five years ago on being exclusively streamed and every year I feel more and more confident that was the right path forward," he says.

Since its inception in 2014, The Game Awards has grown its viewership steadily each year, with recent years seeing massive leaps in the total number of global live streams. While Keighley admits that he thought last year's show might have reached a "plateau," based on this year's numbers and the total viewership for other gaming events (such as 2019's League of Legends World Championships last month, which peaked at 44 million concurrent viewers), there is still room for more eyeballs.

"This year just felt like everything jumped in a massive way," he says. "I don't feel like next year we'll be talking about 85 million viewers, but who knows?" 

Keighley sees the success of The Game Awards as not only a personal win, but also a step for the video game industry to challenge established awards shows in other mediums such as film and television. "This show can be at the scale, viewership-wise, as other entertainment mediums. What drives me is that one day we'll end up being one of the biggest awards shows in the world that just happens to be about video games," he says. 

The total global live streams from each Game Awards are listed below.

2014: 1.9 million
2015: 2.3 million (up 23 percent)
2016: 3.8 million (up 65 percent)
2017: 11.5 million (up 202 percent)
2018: 26.2 million (up 128 percent)
2019: 45.2 Million (up 73 percent)