Friday 15th December 2017,

Why Creators Should Submit to the IAWTV Awards

If you’re an IAWTV member or follow the Academy on Twitter — which you should — you’re probably aware the group is calling for submissions to its upcoming awards show in Las Vegas at CES in January 2012. This will be the first show from the IAWTV, of which I am a member, and it’s a pretty big deal. 

There’s a complicated history behind the event, which I won’t recap here. In a nutshell, the IAWTV once partnered with the Streamy Awards, but after the last much-criticized Streamys, the group decamped to start its own program. That decision made a lot of sense at the time. Google “Streamy Awards disaster” and you’ll see what I mean.

But it was a long time ago, and everyone is moving on. The Streamys are moving on as well and we should hear more about where it’s going in the coming months.

So now we’re left with a great opportunity: multiple awards for independent television! Initially skeptics said having multiple award shows for web programming would confuse viewers, many of them still perplexed by what a “web series” is.

Most art forms have multiple awards. Film has the Oscars, Spirit Awards and more from the guilds, critics and television networks. Television has the Emmys, plus many of the same as film, like the Golden Globes and those from various interest groups (NAACP, GLAAD, etc.). Theatre has the Tonys, Obies and Pulitzers.

Web video programming so far has the Streamys and Webbys, primarily, with a few more if you count recognition from individual websites, networks and festivals, plus larger institutions like the Writers Guild and Emmys.

What’s the point? The more, the merrier!

Award shows take years to mature and are constantly revising rules and procedures to adapt to changing audience tastes and artistic innovations. No show should be written off until at least several years of tinkering and experimentation.

More importantly, awards are one way new media producers establish who they are and what kinds of programming they value. Awards are marketing opportunities, both for individual brands and the medium as a whole. Since the web series market — or whatever you call it — is still developing, there’s little reason to dismiss any individual program.

I’m both an IAWTV member and a contributor to Tubefilter, which produces the Streamys. We should support both!

Click here for submission guidelines for the IAWTV Awards. The online entry deadline is October 31.

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.


  1. Chris October 21, 2011 at 1:31 am

    These events are so clique, (I.E. LA/NY bubble,) centric that it seems pointless to pander to people who have already decided which friends to give awards to. (Especially in the IAWTV and the Streamys.) There was a time when the selling point was “awards lead to funding” and then that turned out to be BS. What the 2010 Streamys showed us is that a trophy from one of these organizations and $2.50 will get you on the subway in New York.

    Award shows can be fun, (although the only people who had fun at the 2010 Streamys were likely sadists,) but they don’t “matter” at the end of the day. Building your audience and becoming something in such a difficult medium to thrive in matters because if you don’t, you won’t make money doing it and there’s no industry as a result.

    The biggest money makers and most successful creators in the web space could care less about ANY of the awards. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure anyone would be very happy to get an award but you don’t see the top Youtubers fighting and breaking their hearts over them.) Trying to make them “matter” without anything but “just because” is a fool’s game and not one worth playing in my eyes.

  2. Aymar Jean Christian October 21, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Those are some good points. To be specific, I don’t think creators should only strive for awards, but as a whole, the more people who apply, the better the crop, which is better for the space, even if it doesn’t matter much for audience/budget of individual shows (though I’m sure it’s possible it might in small ways).

  3. Donnie October 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    It’s funny that you posted this because I’ve been debating about submitting to this competition. There are several “red flags” that has (so far) put me on the “no thank you” side of the decision:

    1. As Chris mention in the previous comment: Many of these groups/competitions are Clique Centric. With IAWTV this seems to be the case as there is apparently a fraternity like aspect to even becoming a member.

    2. Many film festivals in general are raping people for submission fees. Paying $75 – $250 for a rejection letter/email is foolish.

    3. The submission fee for the IAWTV fest is $95 (for non fraternity members)…That’s more than even Sundance, a widely known festival. For that money, it may be more beneficial for an indie creator to get a rental car and drive to a college campus to hold a free screening to students (who may then spread the word about their show as advertising). If the attitude is “the more the merrier” why not make the submission fee cheaper or even free, especially since this is the “first annual” competition.

    4. The Streamys disaster. Yeah, I know the story. But stink covers all those in the vicinity. Just like President Obama was held accountable for the BP oil spill.

    5. The non-presence of the IAWTV in the digital space in general. To be honest, This Televisual website has done more for promoting web series than the IAWTV. I could be wrong but that is the perception. Even their website, for example, doesn’t scream visual digital creativity.

    This is not a personal attack of the IAWTV…just a logical evaluation of this festival and festivals for web series in general from a regular joe six-pack web series creator.

  4. Aymar Jean Christian October 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Also a number of good points, the most pressing might be the entry fee. I’d forgotten that a number of web series creators submit to film festivals as well, and those costs can add up. Given that there are hundreds of film festivals and only a short list (see here: that screen and honor serialized video, I think the justification for the entry fee is that if you focus on web series, you only have a few fees to pay. That said, if you’re a creator whose series, like yours, has very high production value, it might make more sense to spend your money elsewhere.

    The strange thing about this space is every series is different, in story and business model. Just as TV shows like Workaholics don’t need Emmys, some creators may find awards superfluous. It’s certainly not for everybody. My focus as a writer is often on the space generally, and award shows are important for defining/debating media formats, even if they can’t accomodate everyone.