The Game Awards draw record-breaking viewership as traditional award shows slump

While fewer people have been tuning into major award shows broadcast on TV, one newcomer is drawing big numbers purely from online viewers.

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The Game Awards — an awards show for video games, their makers and players held annually since 2014 — boasted 45.2 million live streams during its three-and-a-half gala last week in Los Angeles. That was up 73 percent compared to 2018’s 26.2 million live streams, the team behind the awards show said in a press release.

The show was streamed for free on more than 50 digital video platforms, including popular sites like YouTube and Twitter. The live stream hit a peak concurrent viewers of more than 7.5 million.

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In contrast, ratings for this year’s Academy Awards had an audience of 29.6 million, according to Deadline. And the Emmys had a record-low viewership of 6.9 million people in September, according to Variety.

Video games are big business. The industry was reportedly worth $43.4 billion last year. Even some fans have been able to make a living playing games, competing in esports tournaments for titles like “League of Legends” or streaming popular games like “Fortnite” on Twitch or other platforms.

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The Game Awards have seen double- or triple-digit percentage increases in viewership each year, jumping up from 1.9 million live streams of the inaugural 2014 show. There was a 50 percent year-over-year increase in fan voting for this year's awards, according to organizers.

“We are grateful and humbled by the continued growth of The Game Awards over the past six years,” said Geoff Keighley, The Game Awards’ creator and producer. “These record-setting results show that gaming culture continues to reach new audiences around the globe, and these numbers re-affirm our distribution approach of streaming the show live and free across more than 50 digital video platforms.

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This year’s winner of the big “Game of the Year” award went to “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.” Other awards were presented in various game genres, for categories like art direction and audio design and to esports players, teams and events.

The show included star award presenters like Stephen Curry, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. It also featured performances by Green Day, Chvrches and Grimes.

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