Will the web series world support the new Streamy Awards?


The Streamy Awards are coming back for a third round sometime in 2012, thanks to a partnership with Dick Clark Productions, which has produced awards shows ranging from the Golden Globes to the American Music Awards, and is looking to build the Streamys into a similar franchise for recognizing Internet content.

Things regarding the Tubefilter-produced awards show had been relatively quiet in 2011, following the poorly received 2010 Streamys and a split with the IAWTV last November. But this deal, as covered by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, emphasizes the possibility for the Streamys to not just return, but potentially be broadcast on television.

However, according to Tubefilter co-founder Drew Baldwin, speaking via phone, that’s not a guaranteed certainty: “There’s a strong possibility that it may be online only — it might be on TV, it might be both. It’s a wait-and-see situation.” What matters to Tubefilter and DCP at this stage is re-engaging the web series community and making up for the 2010 awards by creating the best possible show for 2012.

Much like in 2009, when seasoned award show veteran Gary Smith handled the production of the first Streamy Awards, Dick Clark Productions will be in charge of the show’s overall production — answering critiques that the 2010 awards, which were produced solely by the Tubefilter principles at the time, were badly run. “We are teaming up with one of the biggest producers of live events — from the very baseline the show is going to be very high-caliber and professional in quality,” Baldwin said. “We have a lot of confidence in this company.”

While DCP will handle the production of the show, according to Baldwin, “It’s our responsibilty at Tubefilter to make sure it doesn’t get away from that heart of independent creation which occurs on the web. That’s going to be our job, to engage the community in the process of the Streamy Awards from the nominations forward, to make sure that the right people get the recognition. We want to make sure it doesn’t turn into just a high-profile, star-f–king type of event. What’s really important to us is that it’s about the creators online — about the people who are creating great stuff.”

Details regarding the organization of the awards were not available, but according to Ariel Elazar, DCP VP of digital distribution and brand licensing, one key element will be to differentiate between three types of online video — studio-produced supplemental content, original web series and the video produced by YouTube creators — and honor all of them equally. “We want to bring mainstream notoriety to the great content online,” he said via phone.

Voting will be driven by a combination of audience voting and a “blue ribbon panel” of more than 50 people who, in Baldwin’s words, “are high profile individuals who are qualified to recognize excellence in online entertainment.” The aim is for that panel to be full of creators, who, Baldwin said, are “the most qualified people to discover and evaluate the best in web content.”

The need for that blue ribbon panel comes with the separation from the IAWTV, which was originally created primarily as a voting body for the Streamy Awards, before it evolved into an organization aimed to support the community creating web originals. Current IAWTV chairman of the board Paul Kontonis, when asked for comment, said he was excited about the Streamys, but questioned the Streamy’s status as a for-profit initiative, as opposed to the forthcoming non-profit IAWTV Awards, which are currently set to launch at CES 2012 this year.

“It’s a commercial venture that will have a lot of razzmatazz and great entertainment value — but it’ll be another glamour awards as opposed to an event that has real meaning,” Kontonis said via phone. “The IAWTV Awards will be meaningful because it comes from the creators, for the creators, benefiting the creators.” According to Kontonis, profits from the IAWTV Awards will go toward research, educational and training initiatives for the IAWTV community.

The 2010 Streamys may have acquired a certain infamy, but over a year later, what do people think about their return? An informal survey of creators in the space (many of whom were Streamy winners or nominees in the first two years) have a varied outlook at this stage:

“It’s the best thing that could happen to this industry we’re all committed to building. I think if the web series world wants a legitimate seat at the entertainment industry’s table, it needs to support those that support them in making that happen. I think what the web series world needs is attention and respect from those best-positioned to fund its growth as a legitimate entertainment medium. If one, two or twelve award shows help to do that, then I think it’s great.” — producer Wilson Cleveland (whose past work in branded content included bringing Trident on as a sponsor for the 2010 Streamy Awards, and dealing with the aftermath).

“Honestly, I’m extremely torn. While I have to acknowledge that of course teaming up with such a high-profile production company is a huge win for the Streamys, my fear is that those involved did not listen to the feedback of the community after the second Streamys were so largely seen as unsuccessful. A lot of that feedback urged the Streamys to go back to a smaller, more community-centered event — more of a celebration of online video and its pioneering creators.” — Anonymous

“[The Streamy producers] realize that they messed up — they’re allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s a sophomore slump. And one of the main issues we face as creators is credibility. It’s hard to get people to trust your shows when you’re not NBC or ABC. So even the idea that Dick Clark’s production company is getting involved gives credibility to us. If we want to be pros, we have to compete with pros — because if we can beat celebrities, it adds more to our credibility. Bring it on.” — Break a Leg creator Yuri Baranovsky

“My thinking is that it’s typical. It always looked like Tubefilter were more interested in television and its existing stars than web video and its bustling talent. This news confirms that thinking.” — Anonymous

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to draw more eyes to web series that may not have been seen previously. One of the purposes of an awards show is to draw eyes to those being honored, otherwise what’s the point of the award?” — Compulsions creator Bernie Su.

“I worry that, in this new incarnation, if a lot of terrific web series don’t have the right creds they may be overlooked. I hope I’m way off base about this. Because the chance to be introduced to a massive new audience and welcomed as legitimate contributors to the arts and entertainment arena would make it possible for us to continue doing what we do and even make a living at it. So, I’m rooting for Dick Clark Prods and the Streamys to be a match made in heaven.” — Anyone But Me creator Susan Miller

“Awards shows have always been and are nothing more than marketing tools for all involved, so I think it’s important to get more mainstream media involved with and spreading the word about online video. If the Streamys are small and stream only for the web then it will be just that — small. I think the reach and the awareness that a TV awards show will bring can only help the web community. But be warned — there was a time when Sundance was truly independent. With success and exposure comes the need for mainstream talent to sell advertising.” — Anonymous

“I honestly feel like this industry can use all the promotion it can get. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about web video, it’s that survival is success; find a way to get it done, do it as well as you can do it, and keep moving forward regardless of the mistakes. Hollywood LOVES a comeback story. I guess we’ll get to see if they love the Streamys’ comeback story.” — Blip.tv VP of Content Steve Woolf

On Friday, there was also an interesting Tumblr post by VidCon organizer Hank Green on the subject of why VidCon does not include an awards show component at this stage. “I think online video is just too damn young. It may not seem like this from the outside, but to me it is very clear that creators are still casting about trying to figure out what it is that they want to do” is just one of his reasons.

But where do you stand? Let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: NewTeeVee was a media partner of the 2009 and 2010 Streamy Awards.


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