The Daytime Emmys this year couldn’t find a home on a broadcast or basic cable network, so instead they will be streamed online on June 22 (at daytimeemmys.net). What does this say about daytime programming, its relationship to the networks, the mindset of broadcast and basic cable executives and the
viability of placing a significant awards program -- one that just a few years ago had been a big broadcast sweeps event -- on a Web site?
To begin with, tossing to the Internet an awards show or any program historically associated with broadcast or basic cable television does not necessarily suggest a lack of confidence in that property. In other words, this should not be looked down upon. The power of digital technology and social media far eclipses that of a television network, at least among the young. Of course, young people aren’t exactly flocking in droves to daytime television -- not in the way they used to, when certain soap operas were the most popular of all TV shows among teens and college students. But those days are long gone, for reasons that could fill several columns.
A few years ago a shift of this kind would have instantly tagged the Daytime Emmys as an abject failure. But awards shows are now making a space for themselves on the Web. Indeed, the first-ever YouTube Music Awards did quite well (except for a few technical gaffes) last November with their premiere event, which was seen exclusively online.
On the flip side, last year the Critics Choice Television Awards were successfully streamed on UStream live from the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel -- the same place that the Daytime Emmys will originate from in just over two weeks. Interestingly, the CCT Awards this year are migrating from the Web to television -- specifically to The CW, which will present them live one week from tonight.
The obvious response called for here is to say that an awards show that honors significant programs and performances on television belongs on television -- which takes us back to the Daytime Emmys.
While it certainly isn't a bad thing to be telecast online, with a potential audience exponentially larger than anything television can provide, it is difficult to understand why no broadcast or basic cable network could find the time or resources to telecast the show, which for the last two years was somewhat depressingly presented on HLN. Last time I checked, daytime television was still hugely significant to CBS, NBC and ABC. For years the Big Three used to rotate the ceremony among themselves, first as an afternoon telecast (which made sense) and then as an outsized prime-time event (which always felt like a stretch). By the mid-Nineties and well into the last decade, they were a cornerstone program of the May sweeps period for whichever network they were on.
And then all of that fell apart, in part because certain networks began squabbling about running an awards show in which shows and stars from other networks walked away with all the glory. I recall that NBC didn’t like devoting two or three hours of prime time to celebrating the many wins at the time by CBS and ABC. That was the beginning of the end.
I have to assume that the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which produces the Daytime Emmys, must have played hardball with CBS, ABC and other potential TV outlets and was rejected, because these things usually come down to money. I have no firsthand knowledge of this situation, so I can’t make any definitive statements about it.
But I can say that it seems somewhat remarkable that the networks, studios and production companies responsible for a collective thousands of hours of daytime television every year -- including dozens of dramas, talk shows, children’s shows and news programs that run year-round, far outpacing anything in prime time -- can’t come together and work out a plan to celebrate and promote programming of which they should all be very proud. It’s not as though there aren’t a number of big names involved -- including Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne and Aisha Tyler of CBS’ “The Talk”; Drs. Oz and Phil; Ellen DeGeneres; Queen Latifah; Steve Harvey; Katie Couric; Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters of ABC’s “The View”; the casts of CBS’ “Morning Show,” NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America”; Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan; Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb; Judge Judy Sheindlin; and the stars of CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” ABC’s “General Hospital” and NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” many of them with robust individual fan bases of their own.
That is just a partial list of the programming and personalities involved in making daytime television so distinctive -- and it is most certainly not an assemblage of talent that should be mistreated by the powers that be, be they executives at the broadcast networks, their basic cable siblings or NATAS. But that’s exactly what’s happening. I like to think that the Daytime Emmys will be a hit online, but I can’t help but recall the sorry fate of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” two long-time daytime television cornerstones that transitioned to the Internet two years ago with unfortunate results.
Is there enough interest among Web watchers -- which is almost everybody these days -- for an event that celebrates television? How will the show hold up in a new environment? These are the questions that will be answered in two weeks. I’ll be visiting friends the weekend of June 22 in a region of New Hampshire where Internet access is spotty at best, so I’ll be among the last to know.