In case there was any doubt as to this year's dominant cultural force, the 2017 VMAs ratings offers some insight. Last night, MTV's post-aughts TV bread and butter continued its downward spiral, drawing in a mere 6 million total linear viewers, Variety reports. That number was half a million less than 2016's installment of the show and, most notably, half of the ratings Games of Throne amassed. The season 7 finale of the HBO mega-hit series drew in a whopping 12.1 million linear viewers, which is a spike from the 8.9 million it saw during last season's finale.
The gap between the two primetime television events is significant. And, it's not just because of the numbers but also because awards shows are best digested in real-time — where, these days, every standout moment is near-impossible to miss on social media — while in a post-streaming world TV series are more often consumed after they first air. In this case, far more people cared about a recorded show they could watch on demand rather than a live event characteristically packed with the kinds of GIF-worthy celeb exchanges that require the full context of witnessing them unfold.
This year, however, had blatantly less of those under a new direction from first-time host Katy Perry. In fact, one of the biggest GIF'd moments of the night was only notable in that it was a non-moment: When Lena Dunham's boyfriend, .fun frontman, and Taylor Swift collaborator Jack Antonoff was captured eating a banana.
Still, MTV at least had one win for the evening. While their linear viewers sharply declined, the network picked up a whole new crop of younger viewers aged 12 to 24, Variety reports — which is one thing Game of Thrones didn't manage to do. While Game of Thrones had Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen reaching peak sexual tension, the 2017 VMAs — which did not draw some of the bigger names in music from Beyoncé to Kanye West and Rihanna to Drake — had performances from Fifth Harmony, Lorde, Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert. The teens know what the teens want.
Watch: Kit Harington Auditioned for "Game of Thrones" With a Black Eye