Streamers First “For Your Consideration” Season Runs Amuck but is it politics or the quality of YouTube Red’s projects?
Months ago, YouTube made a decision — this year it would go hard on the awards circuit, and so it formed an in-house coalition, with outside consultancy, focused on “For Your Consideration” campaigns. The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy’s was the first in line. For the 69th Annual Emmy Awards, YouTube focused on a few of its flagship projects to come from YouTube Red in the last year — “Paranormal Action Squad” for Animated Short, “Rhett & Link’s Buddy System” and “This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous” for Exceptional Merit for Documentary category. Gigi Gorgeous’s Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple was submitted and also did not receive a nomination.
According to sources on the teams working on the FYC campaigns, the team internally at YouTube is “very disappointed and surprised” that YouTube Red didn’t receive a single nod. Meanwhile, companies YouTube Red aspires to compete with, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon grabbed 91, 18 and 16 nominations, respectively.
“YouTube came to the table quite late,” said one executive, noting that the streaming platform turned studio decided to give the awards circuit a run based on the audience response from “This is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous”.
“This was clearly [YouTube Red’s] most prestigious title, they had an Oscar-winning director attached and it was a really great title to put forward from a content perspective, so it had three elements that make it a seemingly strong contender.”
But whether politics were at play or whether YouTube Red has a misguided eye on what types of projects will earn it a seat at the table alongside Hollywood A-Listers is still a question.
“This sweeping array of television shows ranges from familiar favorites like “blackish” and “House of Cards” to nominations newcomers like “Westworld”, “This Is Us”and “Atlanta”,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington, claiming formats from Netflix alongside “television”.
And one stands to wonder whether YouTube Red has crossed over from digital to television in the minds of the Hollywood voting body. YouTube as a platform did see 5 nominations in total for formats distributed on its platform — “Honest Trailers”, “Epic Rap Battles” and World of Wonder’s “Untucked” among them, and in the Short Form categories.
“I think you’re going to see the streamers getting more and more attention,” said Dermot McCormack, AOL’s former head of video. “The Emmy’s are still made up of television [executives] but what you’ll see change over the years is more people who come from digital as part of the voting body,” — a change McCormack thinks is essential for more cross-over startups like go90, YouTube Red, Fullscreen and Facebook to grab these awards.
And, to YouTube Red’s defense, the categories it submitted for are among the most competitive, especially documentary where the bar has been raised quite high. One insider close to the project said: “I think it’s less about YouTube being snubbed and more about the product that YouTube put forth. YouTube has to come to terms with the fact that if they want to play this game, their content has to raise to that required level,” — as it should across the board from digital-first publishers.