The 2013 VGX Awards, formerly known as the Spike VGAs, drew 1.1 million viewers who spent an average of 32 minutes watching the 180-minute show, organizers told Polygon today.
Viewers watching just 32 minutes out of a 180-minute show may sound like a failure, but Viacom Entertainment Group EVP Erik Flannigan doesn't think so. He pointed out that 30-minute TV shows only need to be watched for six minutes to be counted by Nielsen ratings.
"It exceeded our expectations," Flannigan said.
Past Spike awards shows were broadcast on cable TV, but the 2013 VGX opted for an all-digital format, streaming live to more than a dozen destinations.
"Maybe the distribution of where the views came from was different than we may have thought, but we knew the consoles may be heavy and they were," he added. "In terms of total streams, we were very, very pleased. I think the number that shocked us most was the 32 minute session time. The idea that people were watching longer than a half hour show on television was, that was way beyond our wildest dreams."
The show was not loved by all, not by any stretch. It's this divisive nature that proves the show has legs, Flannigan argued.
"Death to us would have been apathy," Flannigan said. "Death would have been no one talking, no one caring, no one having an opinion about it."
Some viewers called out co-host Joel McHale as a low point for the show, criticizing the jokes he made and his level of attentiveness and enthusiasm throughout the event. Flannigan said he was not surprised that the "hyper-critical" gamer market reacted the way they did. McHale will be considered for next year's show, if there is one, he said.
"You take Joel's very funny, snarky detached point of view he can bring sometimes and you throw that into a bunch of gamers who are about as hyper-critical as you can be, and I say this as a reflection of their passion and their interest, and we gave him a three hour show where they are sitting on their computers looking for something else to do when they watch," Flannigan said. "What are they going to do? They're going to post on message boards and they're going to tweet about it. It was kind of a formula for feedback and Joel became the place where they pointed a lot of their attention."