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On Giving the Streamys (and the IAWTV) a Chance

Aymar Jean Christian December 17, 2012 Video 1 Comment
On Giving the Streamys (and the IAWTV) a Chance

I normally don’t write about award shows. It’s been awhile since I had anything to say about the Academy Awards, whose voting membership is woefully unrepresentative of America, or the Emmys, whose last big winner, Homeland, is currently getting a dressing-down from Televisual‘s Adam Goldman amid broader critical skepticism.

That said, award shows are important, and ever-more important as web TV’s public face.

Today we got the nominees for the 3rd Annual Streamy Awards, to be held in Los Angeles in February. Next month will bring the IAWTV Awards in Las Vegas at CES. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Streamys’ Blue Ribbon Panel. I also voted for the IAWTV Awards nominees).

If you haven’t heard about the Streamy Awards in awhile, it’s because the 2nd annual show was a reported disaster, the effect of which split up the show and one of its founders, the IAWTV, which formed its own show, the IAWTV Awards. Now the Streamys have returned with Tubefilter at the reins and Dick Clark Productions at its back.

No award show is perfect. Some nominees are more deserving than others. Scores of worthy series get left out. (I’ll be addressing that in another post).

But looking at the nominees for both the Streamys and the IAWTVs, I find it hard to complain.

The Streamys are honoring a nice cross-section of video talent. There is a ton of stuff on the Internet. Any award show would miss, basically, everything.

But among the nominees are a lot of people who deserve recognition. Hats off to long-hustling producers Benny and Rafi Fine, who received nine nominations for their MyMusic show, YouTube’s most ambitious sitcom, along with another for Kids React, a brilliant idea executed perfectly. Anyone But Me, no stranger to this blog, received three nominations for the final season of their show, the web’s leading lesbian drama. Husbands scored four nominations as the gay series that shows how TV veterans (Jane Espenson, Jeff Greenstein) can pair with web talent (Cheeks) to get it right online. And who can deny the genius of this year’s surprise hit The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a economical and superbly written vlog series from a team of web TV veterans, including co-creators Hank Green and Bernie Sue and producer Jenni Powell?

But the Streamy Awards have limits. Most of the nominations went to productions backed by major/rising networks and distributors, be it Yahoo and College Humor, or studios like Revision3 and Fullscreen.

So “true” indies are left out. Left in are some series whose big budgets could not buy them admirers, among critics or audiences. This is particularly true in drama, where competent shows like Cybergeddon and H+ can certainly count fewer advocates than lower budget fare like Anyone But Me and Lizzie Bennet. Thankfully the web is still the best place to do comedy these days, and that means cheaper productions still hit harder than seven- and eight-figure behemoths, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn notwithstanding.

The IAWTV nominees pick up some of the slack there. Smaller, stranger shows like Matt Enlow’s SquaresvilleScott Brown’s Stockholm, Steve Silverman’s Pretty and Teal Sherer’s My Gimpy Life could take home awards.

The IAWTV saw submissions increase 50% this year, to 473. Of those, 60% came from studios and networks, up 20% from 2010. The Academy forecasts studios and networks will account for 80% of productions next year. (In my eyes, counting indie productions is very difficult. There are likely many more produced than are ever seriously marketed).

This is the expected evolution of the medium. No film gets an Oscar nomination without a theatrical run, and no TV show an Emmy nomination without the backing of a some conglomerate’s channel. Still, it’s worth reflecting that reaching “scale,” as marketers say, necessitates exclusion. Indeed, I’d like to see more racial and gender diversity among the nominees of both awards, which are looking nearly as white and male as their mainstream media competitors. There’s always room for improvement.

Tune in to the IAWTV Awards on Tuesday, January 8, and the Streamys on Sunday February 17.

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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 Comment

  1. Joe Wilson December 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Why do the Streamys need me, an indie storyteller, to pay $400 to enter for a CHANCE at validation in their pageant?

    That’s not building an industry, that’s exploiting storytellers using hype as the payoff.

    Dick Clark Production and Coca-Cola on board and I need to pay $400 for an awards show that hasn’t existed in two years?

    It’s repeating the past, the IAWTV is repeating the past.

    Emulating the past isn’t new.

    Closed circles of validation the general public doesn’t care about doesn’t do anything but line the pockets of people who have one vision, profit.

    This is building an awards show industry, not an industry.

    You can’t market a storyform (web series), you can only market a story. Audiences don’t watch award-winning movies, they watch movies they like, tv they like, things they choose.

    The IAWTV thinks the future is in Vegas with electronics manufacturers upping the overhead for anyone to participate via entry fees, membership fees, hotel, plane, food, bar for WHAT?

    Awards for “New Media” is much like employee of the month, only the employees care.

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