After two weeks of debate across many sites, including ours, the Streamy Awards organizers this morning released a statement on the issue of whether geoblocked series would be eligible for consideration in this year’s awards. The answer: Despite the fact that the IAWTV, whose members cast the votes for the Streamy Awards, is officially an international organization of web series professionals (that’s what the I in the acronym is for), shows only available in one region are still eligible, though “will be at a disadvantage to web series the whole world can watch.”
To exclude geoblocked shows from the Streamys would mean that many of those released via Hulu, Crackle and other major players would be ineligible, thus dramatically lowering the award show’s potential star power while also failing to accurately represent the breadth of web series content currently being produced. Also, because the event is an annual one, it would be tough at this point to change the rules for the 2010 show. The decision does, however, create additional difficulties for the IAWTV in building a truly international presence, which has been a hot-button topic ever since the group’s first public meeting.
The important issue to consider here is the fact that the Streamys, by virtue of the event’s position, does have influence that it shouldn’t be afraid to wield in the future. For example, The Bannen Way deliberately premiered its first three episodes during the 2009 calendar year (a week in advance of the show’s previously advertised premiere date) so that it would be eligible for this year’s awards. If the Streamys also required that episodes not be geoblocked, who’s to say that Sony and Crackle wouldn’t have also conceded on that point, at least for the first three episodes? After all, the Streamys are a one-of-a-kind event, and based solely on the outreach being done by both creators and companies, it’s clear that shows are hungry for the recognition.
Disclaimer: NewTeeVee is co-hosting the Streamy Awards, but is not involved with policy decisions such as this one.