Daytime Emmys Finds Its Digital Home

WHY THIS MATTERS: Much of the TV industry works on non-primetime programs that deserve their own props.

TV is changing and so are the awards shows that honor the medium.

For the Daytime Emmys, that’s meant an almost constant churning over the last decade to figure out its place in the TV firmament. This year, the show seems to have landed on a suitable solution — live-streaming the event in conjunction with a partner producer.

The 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be held over two nights — Friday, April 27 and Sunday, April 29 — at the Pasadena Civic Center, for the second year in a row. Also returning for a second year at the podium are hosts Mario Lopez, anchor of Warner Bros.’ syndicated access magazine Extra, and Sheryl Underwood, panelist on CBS’ The Talk.

Related: CBS Leads Daytime Emmy Noms With 66

After trying for years to work out a licensing arrangement with a broadcast or cable network, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) dabbled with live-streaming the show or airing it online after the fact for a few years. But the solution thus far has never been satisfying either to NATAS or to fans of daytime shows.

“Two years ago we did not go live,” David Michaels, senior executive director of NATAS, said. “The ceremony was at the Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles and we put it out the next morning. Nobody was happy about that. I think the fans want to see this as it happens; that’s a necessity.” Michaels is also executive producing the Daytime Emmys with David Parks.

This year, however, NATAS has entered into a relationship with KNEKTV, which operates both as a producer of live-streaming content and as a streaming network.

“We’re a digital over-the-top network focused on social good,” Kent Speakman, CEO and producer of KNEKTV, said. “We work with a lot of nonprofits and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].”

Michaels said: “In speaking to Kent, I realized there was so much more we could do together. We came up with this partnership. This gives us the potential of reaching the biggest worldwide audience we’ve ever had.”

The Right KNEK-Tion

KNEKTV got its start three years ago by producing the live-stream of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Power of a Wish Gala, hosted by celebrity photographer Nigel Barker, in New York. That effort went on to win iMedia’s Campaign of the Year.

With that success, company founder Speakman expanded — today, KNEKTV houses 85 digital networks and charges subscribers $2.99 a month, which covers its production and streaming costs.

Related: Hayes, Kroffts to Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at Daytime Emmys

NATAS first got acquainted with KNEKTV last year when the company was working with L.A. Style magazine and covering the event’s gifting suites, said Speakman. These are staged the weekend before an awards event, and celebrities take the opportunity to come in to get acquainted with brands and find jewelry, dresses and accessories to wear.

“We saw that people from NATAS were streaming the awards to Facebook Live from their iPhones and I said, ‘Why don’t we help you out and work together? We can do live content with professional cameras and audios and everything else,’ ” Speakman said.

KNEKTV ended up live-streaming the backstage show last year, hosted by General Hospital’s Carolyn Hennesy, who also won a Daytime Emmy for her guest-starring role on Amazon’s The Bay. Hennesy is back this year as host of the red carpet on both Friday and Sunday nights, and conducting backstage interviews with winners as they come off the stage on Sunday.

Speakman will produce both the pre- and post-shows, while Parks and Michaels will co-executive produce the main ceremony on Sunday night. For the first time in several years, multiple cameras will be in play so producers will be able to capture the reactions of all five nominees in every category as the winners are announced.

“It’s very produced and it’s going to be a beautiful show,” said Michaels, who will be assisted by set designer Bruce Ryan and director Greg Gelfand.

All three events will air Sunday, April 29, live on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and YouTube, powered by Switchboard Live. Viewers who have Apple TV, Roku, iOs, Android or Google Chromecast devices can watch on their televisions on the KNEKTV digital network built by Unreel.

“We feel like what we are doing is kind of innovative and that we’re at the forefront of something,” said Michaels.

Digital Domination

That said, if NATAS could find a broadcast or cable partner, the organization would be happy to put the show back on traditional TV again. But that seems like an ever-longer bet, especially given that much of TV is moving over to digital platforms.

“The digital drama categories have exploded this year,” Michaels said. “There were 19 entries in that category alone. That world is growing and growing. But those categories need to stay separate from the network categories because the budget for them is so different. You are talking maybe six to 12 episodes as opposed to 256 episodes.”

Digital daytime drama also has a prevailing queen: The Bay has won a version of that category for the past three years in a row.

As a result of the genre’s growing popularity, NATAS expanded its digital drama categories this year, adding awards for acting, writing and directing.

“There is definitely demand for daytime drama,” Michaels said, “and since the broadcast networks are not expanding that genre, this is what grew out of it. These shows are widely watched and very popular. This is our brave new world.”

That expansion is affecting other categories as well, including kids’ programming and nonfiction fare, such as culinary shows.

“We have to work closely with the Television Academy to determine which of us gets what in order to avoid duplication across the two awards,” Michaels said. “We can no longer say shows are on at a certain time so it gets divided more by genre. If something is clearly a soap, it comes to us. If it’s clearly a sitcom, it goes to them. But there are some shows that blur the lines that could go either way. We give submitters the option: you can enter daytime or primetime but you cannot enter both.”

What the Daytime Emmys proves is that while TV is certainly changing — there are only four daytime dramas on broadcast networks instead of the 12 that aired in 1990-91, for example — it’s not going anywhere. Viewers just might need to have a Roku box and a broadcast antenna to capture it all.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997 - September 2002.