For Streaming Technology Advances, the Emmy Goes to Online Video

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The technology committee decides on award recipients by the end of its third yearly meeting, then begins notifying the winners. The awards themselves are given at a presentation held during International CES in Las Vegas in January. While that’s a long stretch of time after the August meeting, notifying the winners can be a lengthy process.

“Surprisingly, it takes people a long time to be notified,” Seidel says. “That’s one of the challenges is notifying everyone. Then deciding who is going to receive the award. It’s surprisingly difficult to sometimes get all of that public relations machine geared up properly.”

CES seems like an odd venue for the technology Emmys presentations. After all, the news and entertainment industries are based in New York and Los Angeles, plus there are already conferences that are focused on broadcasting or streaming, such as the NAB show in April. But that’s actually the point, Seidel says. CES isn’t solely about broadcast or cable or streaming, so all segments of the industry go there, and CES has become a go­to place that’s not specific to one industry. With many already attending, it’s the most convenient place to host the awards.

This year’s NATAS Emmy Award presentation was held at the Bellagio Hotel, and was co-hosted by Yahoo Tech columnist David Pogue and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. The awards recognized nine technologies, with 32 companies taking home Emmys. Many of those companies, including Netflix, Aspera, and MLB Advanced Media, are regularly covered on this site.

The presentation ceremony is the technology committee’s sole source of funding. It sells tables to attendees, with part of the proceeds going to cover the cost of the hotel.

One of this year’s winners was cloud discovery and recommendation company Digitalsmiths, which was acquired by TiVo in January 2014. According to Ben Weinberger, CEO of Digitalsmiths and vice president of services at TiVo, his company was first contacted by the Emmy committee 2 years ago.

“They take a look at what categories are the most relevant for the technology Emmy’s and they have been looking at this particular category over the last 2 years,” Weinberger says. “Two years ago, we had various discussions with them about it and they were looking at the state of the maturity of the industry. They did not award anybody the Emmy. They didn’t have a category until this year.”

The committee members decided that the personalized recommendation services category was mature enough for recognition this year, with Digitalsmiths, Jinni, Comcast, and Think Analytics all taking awards. For Digitalsmiths, it was a high point.

“It was pretty exciting to find out,” Weinberger says. “Coincidentally, we had someone from the San Jose TiVo office come to visit us in Durham, N.C., that next week. We were doing some meetings with different people from different offices. They had previously won an Emmy and they brought their Emmy with them to show everybody. It added a level of excitement to everybody, seeing a real Emmy and knowing that that was what we were going to be receiving at some point.”

For the people at Digitalsmiths, the Emmy was a welcome endorsement.

“I think it’s a great validation of both all the technology and hard work and the expertise in the product, but also the fact that the industry and the client and customer base has matured to a point where personalization and the ability to drive a next­generation user experience has come into reality in the marketplace,” Weinberger says.

The streaming world is changing quickly, and the technology Emmys are a record of the important advances being made every day.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Streaming Media as "The Emmy Goes to Online Video."

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