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Emmy Awards Revamp Interactive Media Honors to Reflect New Landscape

Just a couple years ago, it seemed stunning for a streaming service to win an Emmy. But as the media landscape has evolved accordingly, it seems that the Emmy Awards will, too.

It was just announced that the Television Academy’s Interactive Media Peer Group (IMPG) will redefine the Emmy Awards for Interactive Media, and bring along four new category awards and a new juried award as well.

The Emmys in Interactive Media recognize excellence in interactive media productions that extend or enhance the viewing experience of a television program or series, or stand alone as original television interactive storytelling experiences.

The greater purpose of these changes is to highlight the new ways media is both being consumed and created. IMPG Co-Governor Marc Johnson acknowledged that the old qualifications created doubt around whether newer mediums like AR, VR and digital extensions were even eligible for the Emmys for Interactive Media. This helps grow that pool of nominated work, and invites more creators to the party.

Awards may not be the “only” reason content’s created, but it certainly helps get it recognized and publicized. For those operating in digitally-focused mediums, the Emmys announcement is a big step toward growth, as well as bringing VR and AR (among other technologies) into the mainstream.

“The interactive media space is advancing more quickly than ever,” said IMPG Co-Governor Seth Shapiro. “For fifteen years, the Emmys awarded by the Interactive Media Peer Group have been a bellwether for this expansion, and an internationally-recognized marker for the outstanding work done by our members. Our award categories have been completely redesigned for 2017, and we’re extremely excited to see all the great work being submitted.”

The new Interactive Media Award categories include:

  • Outstanding Interactive Program
  • Outstanding Original Interactive Program
  • Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program
  • Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program

The re-imagined juried award for Innovation in Interactive Programming will recognize pioneering interactive work in emerging uses of interactive media in television. This Emmy is awarded by a blue ribbon panel selected for their expertise in the field.

At last year’s awards, Oculus Story Studio won a juried award for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media with Henry, an animated VR film narrated by Elijah Wood. Additional wins included FX Networks (for Archer Scavenger Hunt), Comedy Central (for @midnight with Chris Hardwick), Cartoon Network (for Cartoon Network App Experience), and CBS (for The Late Late Show with James Corden).

While those winners are all well-financed, known entities, the expanded qualifications and award opportunities should quickly open that pool even further in the future. Entries for the coming awards (which will include the Interactive changes above) close on May 1, with supporting materials due on May 12.

Nice work by the Television Academy and IMPG for understanding the changing times and adjusting accordingly.