Internet entertainers converge on the Streamys


LOS ANGELES — The online creator world has boomed during the pandemic. Sunday night, its stars gathered at the Beverly Hilton for the 2022 Streamy Awards, the creator economy’s premiere awards show.

It was the first year the award show had been hosted in person since the pandemic, and it was many influencers’ first Streamys. “It feels like a whole new crop of creators,” said Lauren Schnipper, vice president of corporate development at Jellysmack, a platform that allows creators to publish across social networks, and co-host of the Creator Upload podcast. “It’s a completely different group of creators than last time, it’s proof of how the creator economy has grown since the pandemic.”

Despite entertaining millions online through platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and more, the online creator world is still not formally recognized by old school Hollywood. “There’s the Emmys, Golden Globes and Oscars for the mainstream entertainment industry,” said Adam Rose, a TikTok creator with more than 4.3 million followers, “but the people in this room are entertaining more people in the world than the people nominated for those other awards.”

The size of the creator economy is measured in the billions. YouTube announced it paid out over $30 billion to creators between 2019 and 2021, and some of the top internet stars earn tens of millions of dollars a year. MrBeast, a top performing content creator, earned over $54 million in 2021 alone.

On Sunday night, the star power was palpable. Fans pressed their faces and phones against the glass windows at the Beverly Hilton hotel hoping to catch a glimpse of the creators as they walked the red carpet.

“You have TikTokers YouTubers, Snapchat original creators, Instagrammers, it’s an insanely wide swath of platforms that make or break entertainment on the internet,” said Sidney Raz, a creator whose life hacks for people in their 30s have blown up on TikTok and Instagram. “It’s great to have an award show about all the hard work and creativity we put into the internet each day.”

The award show itself was produced by Tubefilter and Dick Clark Productions, and exclusively broadcast on YouTube. Content creator Airrack hosted the event and streamed it on his own channel. The rapper Yung Gravy performed as musical guest.

“Thank you all for coming tonight and leaving your ring lights at home,” he said as he took the stage.

The talent honored at this year’s Streamys showed how multiplatform the creator ecosystem has become. Queen of TikTok Charli D’Amelio won the award for best lifestyle creator. Twitch star Kai Cena won the breakout streamer award. YouTuber Markiplier took home the long standing gamer award in addition to the award for best scripted series. Hasan Piker won for best news creator.

The Streamy award for the best breakout creator is coveted among influencers. Stars who have won it in the past, including Bella Poarch, Charli D’Amelio, MrBeast, Emma Chamberlain, and Liza Koshy, have gone on to become internet A listers and this year, 24-year-old Ryan Trahan took home the prize.

Trahan has made a name for himself by racking up tens of millions of views for things like inviting 100 celebrities to his birthday, spending 50 hours in darkness, and attempting to trade a penny for a house in less than a week.

Simone Giertz, a science YouTuber with 2.7 million subscribers, said that this year’s Streamys felt more established than years past. It’s no longer viewed as something just for teens, she explained. “It’s a lot more grown up than a couple years ago,” she said. “Before it was just a bunch of teens in their rooms taking selfies. I haven’t seen a single person take a selfie yet. We’re all growing up.”

The TikTok stars of the Retirement House, a content house whose members are aged 70 to 85, are new to internet fame but were seated up front, among influencers decades younger than them for the show. Other creators who took the stage on Sunday night spent their formative years in the public eye. Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal, a content creator duo known professionally as Rhett & Link, are both in their mid 40s, but have been stars on YouTube since 2006.

Ben Relles, a former YouTube executive who has attended every Streamy Awards since the first one in 2009, said that he was most impressed with Rhett and Link’s “who, after 15 years of creativity on YouTube are still winning show of the year and had the Streamys funniest moment.” (The duo made the audience crack up with a bit about doing a long form introduction to the short form content award).

Caleb Marshall, a fitness pop star who is like the Richard Simmons of the internet, was in attendance with his two backup dancers and fitness instructors Haley Jordan and Allison Florea. Marshall said that the impact of the pandemic, combined with the rise of short form video led to changes in the industry….

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