When Drew Baldwin first decided to create an awards show honoring stars of digital content, it was almost a do-it-yourself experiment.
Baldwin and a team of about 15 were in charge of everything from physically rolling out the red carpet ahead of the awards to producing the show from Baldwin’s two-bedroom Miracle Mile apartment.
“We were very ambitious, but I just don’t think we knew what we were getting into,” Baldwin, co-founder of the Streamys, said of the inaugural show in 2009.
Six years later, the Streamy Awards, co-organized by entertainment giant Dick Clark Productions and digital video industry news and events company Tubefilter, has become the Oscars for Internet stars.
Last year’s show, hosted by YouTube personalities Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, racked up more than 7 million views on YouTube, 2.8 million Vine loops in 24 hours and three worldwide trending topics on Twitter.
Noticing the hype around the Streamys, Viacom-owned network VH1, which is available in 93 million U.S. homes, picked up this year’s show for its channel and digital platforms.
“Our job as TV creators is to engage as many eyeballs as we can,” said Lee Rolontz, VH1’s executive vice president of original music production and development. “If we can bring some of those eyeballs to our channel because of certain celebrities, that’s what we want to do. These digital creators deserve a place to get recognized and we think they should get recognized in a mass media forum like television.”
Sure enough, the fifth Streamy Awards became a network-worthy spectacle, with hundreds of stars spanning the entertainment spectrum turning up at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday to celebrate what’s lovingly referred to as #TeamInternet.
“The Streamys is at the forefront of entertainment because entertainment isn’t limited to one medium anymore,” said YouTube star Tyler Oakley, who co-hosted the show with Helbig. The duo has amassed more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube combined and nearly 6 million followers on Twitter.
“The show has done a great job of taking traditional media stars and showcasing the ones who have tried to acclimate to the Internet,” Helbig added.
It’s true -- this year’s roster of traditional stars was robust (and a bit random). Presenters included Paula Abdul (“America Idol”), Mel B. (former Spice Girl and “America’s Got Talent” host), musician Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Kingston, NeNe Leakes (“The Real Housewives of Atlanta”), Shay Mitchell (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Jillian Rose Reed (MTV’s “Awkward”).
Throughout the Streamys, traditional stars were paired with digital personalities. For example, R&B artist Ciara and beauty mogul Michelle Phan presented the first award.
Even seating arrangements reflected the convergence of traditional and digital stars. Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox (known for their YouTube moniker Smosh) sat at a table up front next to Kat Graham (from the CW’s popular show “Vampire Diaries”) and James Van Der Beek.
There were also performances by Grammy Award-winning duo Great Big World, “Cheerleader” singer OMI, rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot and “Pitch Perfect 2" star Hailee Steinfeld.
Still, it’s not easy getting younger viewers to turn on their TVs. Last year’s Teen Choice Awards on FOX had a heavy presence of Web celebrities but drew only 2.6 million viewers.
Ten minutes before the show began, Baldwin and Assaf Blecher, the vice president of programming and development at Dick Clark Productions, took to the stage to remind attendees of the significance of being on TV.
“We’re live for the first time on TV in 10 minutes!” Blecher said.
“Let your personalities shine through, this is our night,” Baldwin added.
The two also noted because the show is limited to an hour and a half (in past years, it has gone over that timeframe), winners would have only 30 seconds for their acceptance speeches.
During commercial breaks, an announcer reminded attendees to “keep tweeting #Streamys.”
The eclectic lineup of performances and stars was well-received by social media users. The awards show sparked about 473,212 messages on Twitter, according to early Nielsen Twitter TV ratings.
Of the tweets, 178,734 contained “reactions,” or tweets with emotions, according to Canvs, a social TV platform created by the firm Mashwork. The company uses relevant tweets, provided by Nielsen, to gauge what emotions people have about TV. The tweets are then broken down into reactions.
An estimated 41.5% of the reaction tweets contained emotions of “love,” with many praising their favorite stars and using heart emojis to express their enthusiasm. About 16.2% of users also had reactions of “congrats,” tweeting at their favorite winners.
Ratings for this year’s Streamys have not been released yet, but organizers for the show said the numbers aren’t everything.
“We don’t believe there’s a TV audience and a digital audience,” said Ariel Elazar, Dick Clark Productions’ executive vice president of brand marketing and digital Strategy. “There’s an audience, period. And we as a company create content that is good for every platform.”
After the show came to an end at around 8:30 p.m., about 50 screaming teen fans lined up outside the parking lot of the Palladium hoping to take selfies with their favorite stars. One group of girls chased after a car with Vine stars Jack & Jack in it.
“He was right next to me,” a girl said, too flustered to even snap a picture.
For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h