The winners of yesterday's third annual Streamy Awards, which "honor excellence in original online video programming and those who create it," show that the best of made-for-Web television is still pretty webby. Epic Rap Battles of History, which are short rap-offs between famous historical figures like Darth Vader vs. Hitler, won four awards. But among the low production clips and glorified viral video machines—Kids React, for example, are 10-minute long videos of children watching videos—are some promising gems. These might not feel as high quality as an expensive television series. But, they are the beginnings of something interesting happening in the Internet TV world, largely because of bigger investments from companies like Yahoo, Hulu, and the advertising potential YouTube offers. So, let's see how made-for-web TV is doing.
The Show that Feels Most Like a Television Show: The Booth at the End
The Standard: Because of low production values and shortened time-frames, a lot of Internet series feel like someone made them in their bedrooms. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for example, literally takes place in what looks like Lizzie Bennet's room. My Drunk Kitchen, the winner of this year's Best Female Performance: Comedy is filmed not on a Food Network style fake set, but what looks like host Hannah Hart's parents' kitchen.
Why This Stands Out: The Booth at the End, a Hulu original series runs for a full 21 minutes, much like a regular television show. Much of the show takes place in a diner booth (get it?), but it looks like a real television set. The scenes have background music. The show won best Male Actor in a Drama and watching a few clips the acting feels a lot less cheesy than the over-the-top goofiness often seen in Web TV personalities.
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Most Likely to Succeeded with the Masses Soon: Burning Love
The Standard: Many popular Web TV series feed off the personalities of no-name Internet people selling their brands to niche audiences. The Daily Grace, for example, is a one woman show. It's the day delivered by Grace. The Philip DeFranco Show operates on the same premise. Liking these shows depends on liking these relatively no-name people. The personalities will not draw an audience, at least not at first.
Why This Stands Out: Burning Love, a Yahoo series which spoofs The Bachelor features many celebrities. Paul Rudd shows up; Michael Ian Black hosts; Michael Cera makes an appearance; a lot of former Best Week Ever faces show up. These big names will get people watching before the show makes itself into a viral hit. The show also already has a non-Web presence, premiering on E! on February 25.
Most Likely to Succeed With the Internet Masses: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
The Standard: A lot of the highest quality shows—The Booth at the End, Cybergeddon—attempt to make television that just happens to be on the Internet. Despite having cyber in the name, Cybergeddon, for example, feels a lot like a CSI type show.
Why This Stands Out: Halo 4, the live action video-game series, is made for the Internet's nerds. It's the right topic, but it looks as high quality as any space-alien fighting show should.
What the People Want Most: SourceFed
If the audience choice is any indication of what most people want out of their Web tv, then, unfortunately, Internet television will remain relatively webby. The audience pick for series of the year went to SourceFed, which consists of short clips of people explaining things in loud, fast voices. In one clip two hosts talk about the ten-year old movie Vanilla Sky, for example. It's not even close to quality programming. Just something goofy to watch online.