Fifty years ago there were two award shows, one for movies and the other for television. In those days, there were only three TV networks and surfing was relegated to bodies of water.
Today, Americans have access to hundreds of television channels and countless Internet sites. To keep up with this tsunami of programming choices, hundreds of awards shows have popped up, honoring everything from the best of the best to the worst of the worst.
And now, not too far from the palm tree-lined streets of Hollywood, YouTube, the 900-pound gorilla of the Internet, has debuted its own awards.
From its online trove of millions of viral videos starring LonelyGirl15, AskaNinja or the Numa Numa guy, San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube nominated 70 videos for consideration. The categories include "most creative" -- innovative and cutting edge video -- and "most inspirational" -- things that make you think or feel. And let's not overlook "most adorable" video ever -- so cute it hurts.
Each of the seven categories (the envelope, please!) has 10 nominees selected from the site's most watched and top-rated original videos. Last week, the site's visitors were invited to watch and vote on YouTube's award show page. YouTubers rated the videos from favorite to least favorite.
The YTA winners were announced today on the YouTube Awards Web page, www.youtube.com/YTAwards. According to YouTube, the winners will receive a trophy and are expected to post some sort of virtual acceptance speech on the site.
Alternative rock group OKGo took home the trophy as most creative with its wildly popular, Grammy award-winning "Here It Goes Again" music video. Singer Terra Naomi, who recently signed a contract with Island Records thanks to her YouTube following, won best music video for her "Say It's Possible."
The most adorable video, which was originally produced as a part of creator Dony Permedi's master's thesis, featured an animated bird named Kiwi and his first attempt at flight. Self-proclaimed ranter TheWineKone beat the competition for the "best commentary" title with his eight-minute oration "Hotness Prevails/Worst Video Ever."
The "best series" trophy went to the humorous (and apple-pie filled) "Ask A Ninja" series. PeaceOnEarth123 captured the YouTube community's minds and hearts with his "Free Hugs Campaign" video, which also received the "most inspirational" video award. Tag-team producers Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla bested the competition with their short "Smosh Short 2: Stranded" and walked away with the "best comedy" title.
"Winning this award means a lot to us," Padilla, a 19-year-old California native, told ABC News. "It shows that we have a large community and fan base -- all of whom came out in astounding numbers to support us."
YouTube's Jamie Byrne, head of product marketing, said digital media will take on an even larger role in today's technology-driven society. "YouTube and its community are pioneering a new medium. In the past year, user-generated content arrived on the Internet and we started to see the beginning of a new genre -- the evolution of three- to four-minute shorts into episodic series. This is just the beginning of a totally new 'clip culture.'"
"The real value of the YouTube Awards is that they draw attention to the creative, interesting stuff," said Matt Harding, aka MattHarding2718, one of the nominees for most creative video. "It's really hard to find fascinating videos on YouTube. It's in there, but it's tough to find the really clever and interesting stuff."
The content of these videos ranged from knock-knock jokes to flatulent babies to confronting racial stereotypes. "When you create something for the Internet there are a separate set of rules," said Harding. "It really has to be riveting within 5 seconds. The best ones catch people's attention and make them say, 'Is this a trick? Is this real?' It's neat to see where people's creativity can take them."
The YouTube Oscars also serve another purpose, of course. The awards generate publicity for the site and its sponsors. Fox and the other big media companies who want to break into YouTube's space may have to start their own awards.