By Sahil Patel
I promise this is the last time I write about the YouTube Music Awards. Just kidding. Who knows, there might be something else to talk about tomorrow. It’s hard to predict the future!
But here we go: So one of the things coming out of the live event was that during the actual broadcast, the show peaked at 220,000 viewers, though for most of the event, viewership hovered around 175,000–180,000. Obviously this was nothing compared to what tentpole awards shows on TV get — and a lot of people were quick to point that out both during and after the show.
But, again, YouTube isn’t exactly TV, right? Yes there are similarities, and it’s conceivable that the platform might one day host a TV-like show with TV-like numbers. But we’re not there yet.
Then again, if you check out the YouTube Spotlight channel (which, surprise, just became the most subscribed to channel on YouTube), you’ll see that the full YouTube Music Awards video has now topped 450,000 views — more than double the live viewership.
Additionally, a big thing about the show was creative director Spike Jonze’s decision to film “live music videos” throughout the night. Some of them were great, like Arcade Fire’s show-opening performance for “Afterlife.” You knew that eventually these performances would be made available on-demand on YouTube.
And they are. If you look at Arcade Fire’s clip, it already has over 600,000 views. Lindsey Stirling’s performance? Over 220,000 views. Lady Gaga’s “emotional” performance? Over 590,000 views. Eminem’s video/performance for “Rap God”? 1.8 million views.*
What does this tell us? Is it close to TV viewership? Not really. But, again, that’s really not the point. This is YouTube, those numbers will continue to grow, and both separately and as a whole show, I bet the Music Awards will eventually collect enough views to make it “comparable to TV.”
Another thing: To those who gripe about how YouTube didn’t do enough for creators during the show — I get the sentiment. But look at those numbers. Big Music is also big business on YouTube, and it would be foolish for the company to hold a tentpole music event and not cater to each community it serves.
* Eminem’s and Lady Gaga’s videos were uploaded by Universal Music Group to its channel.