If you haven't heard it already, web video is the place to be and organizations like the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) want to make sure its content producers feel the love.
Digital business analytics firm, comScore, published last week that 182 million Internet users in the U.S. watched online video in September, averaging 19.5 hours per viewer. Perhaps not surprisingly, a majority of those views came from Google sites (most props going to YouTube) with 161 million unique viewers, while VEVO ranked in second with 53.7 million viewers. The most eye-opening figure posted by comScore was that the total U.S. audience engaged in 39.8 billion video views (wowee!)
"A lot has changed in the five years since I begin in web video and a lot more will change in the next five years," says Paul Kontonis, VP/Group Director, Brand Content at Digitas and chairman of the IAWTV. "I am watching the evolving media consumption habits of our audiences and watching web TV become prime time viewing, this will bring additional advertising dollars into our industry as more and more shows achieve meaningful audience scale."
Aside from being the most viewed online video platform on the web, YouTube just announced on Friday that it is investing $100 million in original web content in the form of 100 new channels.
According to YouTube's blog, the first of these new channels will be unveiled in the next month, and they've already signed on "some of the most innovative and up-and-coming media companies in the world" along with, you know, some big names like Madonna, SNL's Amy Poehler and the Wall Street Journal.
I think it's safe to say, web video is where the cool kids are coming to play.
Founded in 2009, the IAWTV is a non-profit organization created to help "shape the rapidly evolving web television industry."
According to Kontonis, the organization's goals are to promote excellence in web television, develop standards within the industry (like the definition of a video view and the disclosure of sponsored content), to encouraging the evolution of quality content through workshops and to foster a strong community that encourages cooperation and support for one another.
On Jan. 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV (during the Consumer Electronics Show, actually), the organization is holding its inaugural IAWTV Awards, which Kontonis describes as "the only awards [show] by the creators for the creators with proceeds from the event going towards growing the worldwide creator community and expanding the educational resources of the IAWTV."
"Being recognized by your peers is really a mark of distinction," says Kontonis.
Looking through the website, there are over 30 categories web producers can nominate their series for and with a submission fee of $95 (for non-IAWTV members) you are eligible to submit your show under five categories.
Submissions close on Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST and are open to web series producers from all corners of the globe. So if you're flip flopping about applying, or didn't even know about the awards show, be sure to decide before Monday.
Considering it's the first year the organization's holding this awards show, there's no saying what the turn out will look like or what its implications will be for the industry moving forward. However, Kontonis mentioned in an interview on our show, Nat&Marie, that there will be viewing parties in different cities around the world for those who can't make it to Vegas, as well as an opportunity to engage with the live show in unique ways.
"Legitimacy is defined through infrastructure, financial results and quality content," says Kontonis. "When you look at our industry's ecosystem of talent, agents, producers, studios, networks, advertising agencies, technologies and more, it is remarkably built out for such an early stage medium. Couple that with the unbelievable content that is being produced and right there you have a compelling story."
What do I think as a web producer who's been creating online video content for the last six years? I think creating a body of standards, a supportive community, and celebrating our achievements will only help to evolve and legitimize the industry. Some of my peers have argued that this sort of model makes it seem too much like the traditional TV or film industry or that web video still has a long way to go to bring in the views and big bucks the way traditional media has. What do you think?
Written By: Anastasia "Nat" Tubanos