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Streamy Awards For Online Video Make Bid For More Respectability


Award show season is descending upon us. The Emmys air this weekend, and Oscar-worthy movies are beginning to creep into theaters. And tonight, you might see the Streamy Awards. NPR's Neda Ulaby says the Streamys want to be the Oscars or the Emmys of internet content.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Even one of the guys who created the Streamys, Joshua Cohen, admits the online video landscape is filled with a lot of junk.

JOSHUA COHEN: That's haphazardly produced, that is accidentally entertaining.


ULABY: For example...

COHEN: Dogs on skateboards.

ULABY: Or low-quality homemade videos like one where a fisherman plunges into a lake much to his buddies' amusement.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Laughter) It's on tape for the whole world to see.

ULABY: So-called "fail videos" and their amateur ilk get many millions of views.

COHEN: And we all watch them, and they all have a place online. But that's not what this show is about.

ULABY: The Streamys, says Cohen, are about high-quality, professionally produced online videos.


LIZZIE BENNET: My name is Lizzie Bennet.

ULABY: Like this contemporary retelling of "Pride And Prejudice" in three-minute web-only increments. It won the Best Drama Streamy last year.


BENNET: I'm a 24-year-old grad student with a mountain of student loans living at home and preparing for a career. But to my mom, the only thing that matters is that I'm single.

ULABY: Another Streamy last year went to Jerry Seinfeld for his web series where he drives around drinking coffee with people like Tina Fey.


JERRY SEINFELD: You don't drive?

TINA FEY: I don't have a license anymore.

SEINFELD: You don't ever drive a car?

ULABY: The Streamys are intended to honor stuff made specifically for the web and outside the mold of traditional TV - less "Orange Is The New Black," and more people who are terrific at Snapchat.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: The nominees for Snapchat Storyteller are...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Chris Carmichael - ChrisCarm, Jerome...

ULABY: Besides categories for Best Pranks and Best Gaming Shows, where you watch other people play video games...


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Oh God, what?

ULABY: The Streamys also reward, for example, Best Creativity On Vine. That might sound crazy unless you've seen last year's winner, Zach King, and his surreal six-second vignettes, like one where his piggy bank turns into an actual pig.


ZACH KING: Come back with my money.

ULABY: Streamys co-creator Joshua Cohen wants people to use this award show to learn about great online videos at a moment when there's so much, it's overwhelming. These days, 400 hours of content gets uploaded to YouTube every single minute.

COHEN: Sifting through that and identifying what is worth watching is a huge, daunting task.

ULABY: Tonight, for the first time, this online video award show will be broadcast on VH1, old-fashioned cable television.

ALAN WOLK: VH1 is trying to connect with the kids.

ULABY: Media analyst Alan Wolk says that this is a smart move for a cable channel. After all, some YouTube stars are better known among young people than movie stars. And Wolk says putting an online video award show on TV speaks to the challenges both mediums face. For example, streaming a live awards show, even one call the Streamys, is not easy.

WOLK: That's why streaming live sports is very difficult technologically. You really have to have a very strong infrastructure, and that's why a lot of times, there's issues with any kind of live stream because people haven't sort of prepared for it. So in some ways, they're safer going with VH1 who's done that before.

ULABY: As for the Streamys creators, here's how they describe what it means to be on regular television.

DREW BALDWIN: Validating because it's a traditional medium.

ULABY: Streamys co-creator Drew Baldwin says TV has not completely lost its powerful footing in the entertainment ecosystem even though most TV shows would die for the massive followings that Streamy stars enjoy.

BALDWIN: We're welcoming TV to the table.

ULABY: The validation, he says, goes both ways. Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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