Fastforward a couple of weeks to a conversation I had with Peter Price, president-CEO of the East Coast chapter of the National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences, and what I learned was that the Emmys are no longer your father's TV show awards. They're now your kid's next-generation video competitions. Yeah, that's right, even your kid can enter them. And they don't necessarily have to be something that was telecast on a conventional TV outlet. That's why Web publishers like MediaPost who create and post videos also qualify.
Actually, Price says it was always true that anyone -- even amateurs -- could enter the Emmy Awards, and the reason they haven't was probably because they didn't think they could win in competition with professionally produced television programming that is being judged by a panel of industry pros. Well, that appears to have changed in the era of YouTube, where everyone and his kid sister is a television producer. Consider this, one of the winners of the recently announced prime-time Emmy Awards was Current TV, Al Gore's fledgling cable and online channel that derives most of its content from user-generated videos.
"There are certain misconceptions about the Emmy Awards, and one of them is that we credential the judges, not the entrants. You can be a high school kid and enter your work, but you're going to be a high school kid competing with Mark Burnett and paying $500 for the privilege," Price explains. Or, apparently, Al Gore.
So now's your chance, but if you're interested in entering, you'd better hurry up. Today is the deadline for entries into one of four digital-platform-based Emmy Awards. And best of all, anyone, even people who produce digital content for advertisers or agencies, can enter, too. And you've got four chances to enter.
The East Coast chapter of NATAS, which oversees Emmy Awards in news, sports, and daytime programming, as well as technology, first added a broadband programming category two years ago. This year, they've added several new ones: digital content developed for "desktop" devices (ie. a personal computer); for set-top boxes (cable TV tuners, satellite receivers, TiVos, etc.); portable devices (cell phones, BlackBerrys, Palms, etc.); and video games.
Submissions that arrive as of today will be judged in about 30 days, and the winners will be presented by Digitas Chairman David Kenny during the Association of National Advertisers meeting Oct. 13 in Phoenix.
Why the big advertising connection? Well, Price believes it's a natural outgrowth of the kind of experimental work advertisers and agencies are doing on new video platforms, not to mention their expanding role in branded content.
"It's basically digitally produced commercials for new devices, be they a desktop, a set-top, a cell phone or a console game," he says.
Price says NATAS has broadened its definition for a couple of reasons. One, obviously, is that the definition of what constitutes television is rapidly evolving (hence the reason for this Television Board). Another is that video creation is becoming a far more democratized process, and great -- even brilliant -- programming ideas are coming from everywhere and everyone.
He says when the academy first introduced its broadband video category two years ago, its members were surprised by who entered. Yes, they were some of the usual suspects like ABC, CBS, NBC, Ogilvy & Mather and BBDO, but the competition also attracted interest from an array of newspaper and magazine publishers, who have also begun producing video content for their online editions.
"I think the print community is really attempting to do something new and different than broadcast and cable have been doing," says Price, noting that of last year's broadband category winners, two were newspapers (WashingtonPost.com and NewYorkTimes.com) and one was a magazine publisher (NationalGeo.com). Only one was a conventional TV company (MTV.com).
"We're finding that two-thirds of the work is coming from people who have never entered an Emmy before," says Price. Unfortunately, MediaPost may not be among them. After speaking with Price, I went back to my deleted email folder and found it had already been refreshed. Well, there's always next year.