YouTubers at the Emmys?

The Television Academy has added short-form content categories to the annual event in a nod to the undeniable popularity of online content.
March 3, 2016

“And the Emmy goes to… PewDiePie.”

While YouTube superstar Felix Kjellberg hasn’t taken home an Emmy award yet, the likelihood of him — or his fellow YouTubers like Grace Helbig, Lilly Singh and Shane Dawson — getting a golden statuette of his own some day just shot up.

The Television Academy, which selects the nominees and winners for the annual awards, has opened the door to digital influencers by adding and expanding on several award categories dedicated to short-form content.

The additional categories include:

  • Outstanding short-form series, comedy or drama (replacing the former short-format, live entertainment category);
  • Outstanding short-form series, reality/non-fiction (replacing the former short-format non-fiction category); and
  • Outstanding short-form series, variety (new)

The Academy has also introduced awards for outstanding actor and actress in a short-form series (comedy or drama).

To be considered for nominations, series must have a minimum of six episodes running an average length of 15 minutes or less per episode, and may be exhibited on linear television or online (and yes, that includes YouTube).

The changes reflect the “aggressive” evolution in the entertainment industry, said Bruce Rosenblum, chair and CEO of the Television Academy, in a statement. “This expansion of short-form categories begins the process of ensuring Emmy-worthy creativity will be rewarded, irrespective of format or platform.”

Rosemblum said the growth of MCNs such as Maker Studios, Fullscreen and AwesomenessTV (which have all begun producing their own original content) and VOD services such as Sony’s Crackle and YouTube Red has prompted the academy’s board of governors to implement and expand the short-form categories.

The awards will not be handed out at the main televised Emmy ceremony, but rather will be presented at the Creative Arts Emmys, which are held one week prior to the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony. The Creative Arts Emmys are televised, but usually not on a major network. (Last year, the Creative Arts Emmys were broadcast on FX).

SVOD originals are already eligible for Emmys alongside their linear counterparts, and have taken home quite a few honors in the past two years. Big winners include Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Amazon’s Transparent.

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