On Mar. 11, hundreds of thousands of fans tuned in to watch the most important awards show of the year. In a packed Los Angeles auditorium, celebrities wearing the most lavish designers and dressed in their finest regalia were handed out accolades for their work and accomplishments. You’d never think that this pageantry and rhinestone drip would be for honoring live streamers on YouTube and Twitch.
Move over the Oscars, the Streamer Awards is where the content got interesting.
Musical guests ran into technical difficulties, a cross-promotion with KFC had award recipients yelling to “double down,” and the Streamer of the Year award went to Kai Cenat—who couldn’t attend so accepted as a cardboard cutout. Streamer and creator of the awards Blaire “QTCinderalla” held the over two-hour show together, alongside her co-host Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter.
“I think it’s so important, especially in this industry where everyone is so isolated, to have something that brings everyone together and recognizes people that I don’t think are recognized,” Blaire told Passionfruit in the week leading up to the event. “You could argue that their platforms, their audience, their success is what recognizes them, but it’s so much different having a coworker tell you that you did a good job.”
The second annual event was broadcast from her 920,000-follower Twitch channel, with concurrent live viewership peaking at 354,000 according to Streams Charts, alongside the dozens attending in person. Streamers like Disguised Toast, Ludwig Ahgren, and HasanAbi presented and received awards, while those in the audience wrote in awards-themed coloring books and danced to performances by artists like Yung Gravy.
A ‘community-driven’ event
The Streamer Awards was chock full of memes and self-referential nods to streaming culture. The show started with a monologue touching on the headlines of the past year, like xQc’s divorce case, Adin Ross’ move to Kick, and Blaire’s own battle with AI deepfake pornography.
Even the award itself took inspiration from meme culture. It was a frog named Peepo that shared a resemblance to the controversial, yet highly-used emote Pepe the Frog. For Blaire, it was important that a streamer and someone ingrained in the culture created a show just for them.
“I think a lot of people that have tried doing award shows are just out of touch,” Blaire said. “I think there’s no way for it to be in touch in a community-driven thing if it’s not made by someone in the community.”
Blaire had the idea for last year’s Streamer Awards after watching other industry-adjacent galas, like the Game Awards and the Esports Awards, and noticed there was a severe underrepresentation of content aimed at streamers. In 2022 alone, 30 percent of all internet users watched a live stream, according to Statista, so the market and audience are there.
Other internet culture-focused award shows like the Streamy Awards tended to focus on other platforms like YouTube, but what makes Streamer Awards unique is that the entire focus is on live content creation. The first event in March 2022 averaged around 276,000 viewers and proved to Blaire and the world that there was a hunger for this.
Championing underrepresented streamers
Blaire used the knowledge from last year’s show to help make this year better. The award tallies were based on a mixture of fan and a panel of streamer votes, with viewers getting 70 percent of the weighted vote. It’s a way to stop the awards from turning into a popularity contest.
“We have people from every corner of the internet I could find, but it’s still not enough,” Blaire said. “I want my panel next year to be 200 people. I want to diversify as much as possible because I want to highlight more people outside of that clique you see in the lunchroom.”
One way she did this was by introducing categories for smaller streamers, like the Hidden Gem and the Rising Star awards. Awards like these, which went to variety streamers KingSammelot and Frodan respectfully, helped bring in names that wouldn’t normally get to be part of the spotlight.
For Blaire, it was important to move outside of the circle of Twitch and YouTube’s top stars, making it feel less like a show featuring just her “friends.”
“I made this event to include as many people as possible to highlight as many streamers as possible,” Blaire said. “It’s impossible when there’s hundreds of thousands of streamers to include everyone, but I’m doing my best to at least give people opportunities to be included.”
How did she make it happen?
In 2022, Blaire doubled down on her work, saying on a February 2023 live stream that she spent over $900,000 of her own money towards the event. Over the past three weeks, she barely streamed, telling Passionfruit she put in “14 hours every single day” putting the show together, creating the seating charts, figuring out everyone’s dietary restrictions, and taking production calls.
Blaire said it cost her triple compared to the year prior and she does not expect to make her money back, even with big sponsors like Twitch, Fansly, and KFC.
The awards show was a resounding success, with fans elated at the joyous chaos. So for Blaire, the show can be considered a win.
“My number one hope is people watch it and they say, ‘That was better than last year’s,’ that’s it,” Blaire said. “That’s all I want.”