The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences gave a nod to the growing importance — and, one could argue, inevitable ascendance — of digital-native video creators with today’s addition of three new short-form categories to the Emmys. It brings the total number of short-form categories for this year’s PrimeTime Emmys to five.
To be eligible in the short-form categories, series must have a minimum of six episodes running an average of 15 minutes or less that are exhibited over-the-air and/or via cable, satellite or the internet.
The new categories are Outstanding Short Form Series, Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Series — Comedy or Drama, and Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Series — Comedy or Drama. Two other categories were reconfigured: Outstanding Short Form Series — Comedy or Drama (replaces Short Format Live Entertainment category) and Outstanding Short Form Series — Reality/Nonfiction (replaces Short Format Nonfiction category).
“Our industry is aggressively, quickly and creatively evolving the various ways episodic stories are told,” said Bruce Rosenblum, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, in a statement. “Our Board of Governors felt that this expansion of short-form categories begins the process of ensuring that Emmy-worthy creativity will be rewarded, irrespective of format or platform. These category changes reflect the broader opportunities that emerging networks and distribution platforms, such as Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Crackle, AwesomenessTV, YouTube Red, Adult Swim and others, are seizing in choosing innovative formats that enable our television community to share stories in novel and entertaining ways.”
The expansion of the short-form categories won’t exactly put YouTube creators and their brethren front and center in the spotlight at the Emmys. The short-form awards will be presented as part of the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys, which this year will expand from one night two nights the weekend prior to the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on a date TBD in September. While the Primetime Emmys air live, the Creative Arts Emmys are traditionally telecast one week after they take place (last year, they aired on FXX).
But the Television Academy noted that the expanded recognition of short-form categories parallels the Television Academy’s addition of Emmys honoring reality programming in 2001. In the years since, the number of categories honoring reality TV has grown from eight to 22.
The Television Academy also honors short-form digital series with four awards from its Interactive Media Peer Group. Last year, they were handed out two days before the Creative Arts Emmys at a reception at the Montage in Beverly Hills. The winners included the Bernie Su/Pemberley Digital series “Emma Approved” (Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Original Interactive Program) and Bravo’s “The Singles Project” (Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Multiplatform Storytelling).
Long-form streaming content, whether it originates on Netflix (e.g., “House of Cards”) or YouTube Red (e.g., “Scare PewDiePie”), will continue to compete alongside traditional network and cable programs.