Mobile live-streaming has gained some new credibility. The Shorty Awards, an annual event that crowns the kings and queens of social media, has added two categories this year that both feature stars of live video-streaming apps.
Twelve stars from Periscope, the app owned by Twitter, and 12 from YouNow have been listed as nominees for the 8th annual Shorty Awards. The two categories, “Periscoper” and “YouNower” are listed under the larger “Tech & Innovation” section. There are 44 categories in total, which include social media giants Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Vine.
No matter who is crowned this year, the presence of live-streaming — not just as one category but as two new sections named after two different companies — gives renewed legitimacy to not only the growing industry but also to the apps.
“It is a testament to the fact that YouNow is a very unique experience. It’s like nothing else. It’s participatory, interactive and inclusive of the audience,” Adi Sideman, the CEO of YouNow, told International Business Times minutes after reading the announcement.
Gregory Galant, co-creator of the Shorty Awards, credited the addition of the categories — and specifically Periscope and YouNow — with the fact that they have become brand names and fostered strong communities.
“A year ago, a periscope was just a visual aid for submarines, and a meerkat was just a small furry animal,” Galant wrote in an emailed statement. “Since the Shorty Awards honor creators who've developed powerful and intimate relationships with their audiences, we focus on platforms with the strongest communities.”
Indeed, last weekend, Ryan Bell and Brian Fanzo, both nominees under the "Periscoper" category, led a community-organized Periscope summit in San Francisco. The event was also attended by several of the employees at Twitter and Periscope.
The Shorty Awards nominees were selected by third-party judges, and therefore, the companies did not have an influence on who was chosen as the top stars. “This was a wonderful surprise,” Sideman said. His network now has over 1,000 partners who are paid by viewers via a virtual tip jar. YouNow creators collect about 60 percent of the money paid by viewers, while YouTube creators are given a 55 percent cut in ad revenue.
Meerkat, the once-darling of the industry that some say ignited it all, is evidently absent from the Shorty Awards list. Geoff Golberg got his start in the live-streaming industry using Meerkat back in March shortly after the public launch. He has since moved to streaming, for the most part, with Periscope.
“Important to remind those voting of Periscope's motto: Explore the world in real time through someone else's eyes,” said Golberg, who was nominated as a Periscoper.
But with new players entering the field and Facebook Live gaining traction, the list may look different next year. “We were really impressed with the communities that are developing on Periscope and YouNow, so we launched new categories focused on them. We suspect by next year we'll have many more,” Galant said.
Voting takes place on the Shorty Awards website and goes until Feb. 18.