Boston cleaned up in the latest round of Emmy awards.
No, not with Boston-set TV shows, or Boston-bred actors and writers. The winners this time? Companies responsible for the technology that helps bring those shows and live events to your TVs, computers, and phones.
Three Greater Boston tech companies won a total of five Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards last week, out of roughly 70 or so that were given out for 2020: Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies, Boston-based Brightcove, and Avid Technology in Burlington.
For Avid, its two awards will join its already crowded trophy cases. Make that 18 Emmys in total, so far, after the latest round (not to mention two Oscars and a Grammy). For Akamai and Brightcove, this was their first time getting this recognition — with Akamai winning one Emmy award, and Brightcove winning two.
The awards, from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, aren’t as glitzy as the Primetime Emmys, the event that recognizes TV shows and actors every September. But these Tech Emmys, as they are known, underscore the rise in importance of streaming video during the past year. And, in this case, they highlight the vibrant video-tech sector that exists in the Boston area, often below the radar.
“We’re a tech world, as well,” said Namita Dhallan, chief product officer at Brightcove. “It’s not just all Silicon Valley.”
Brightcove won one award for technology that enables significant reductions in media distribution costs, and the other for technology that allows for fast video compression and conversion with minimal delays and high reliability.
In Avid’s case, the maker of video production and editing software and hardware was recognized for its technology used in TV newsrooms, and for its technology to allow videos to be managed more easily across different platforms.
Jeff Rosica, Avid’s chief executive, said the academy typically hands out Emmys only to recognize technology that has made a lasting, fundamental impact on the broadcast industry. Avid displays its Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy statuettes in the lobby of its Burlington headquarters.
“The Emmy awards and the other awards are to remind . . . our industry and our market that Avid is one place to come to if you’re looking to innovate,” Rosica said. “They’re a pretty important part of our brand.”
Akamai, meanwhile, is getting kudos for its massive content delivery network, a globe-spanning system of 325,000 servers in more than 130 countries. Akamai uses this server network to quickly send live and on-demand video out to viewers with minimal slowness and disruption.
Akamai has submitted its content delivery network to the academy for consideration at least five times in the past, but this is the first time the company has won an Emmy for it. Bill Wheaton, Akamai’s chief strategy officer, speculated that the rising influence of streaming video played a role. Streaming’s stock has risen in the past year because the COVID-19 pandemic has kept so many people at home, and because media companies are increasingly bypassing the satellite and cable giants by offering direct-to-consumer subscriptions, such as Disney+, CBS All Access, and HBO Max.
“It has really got to the forefront of a lot of television executives’ minds that this is a critical and crucial technology,” Wheaton said.
While the winners are notified a few months in advance, the Tech Emmys are typically doled out at an in-person event at the annual National Association of Broadcasters trade show, usually held in April in Las Vegas. But this year, the NAB show has been moved to October because of the pandemic. Despite the delay, the participants expect the awards event will still be a virtual affair.