"House of Cards," Frank Ocean Top Webby Awards

Annual awards also honor Justin Bieber, The Onion, President Obama's election campaign and Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee"

By Jake Coyle
|  Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013  |  Updated 10:20 AM CDT
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Netflix's groundbreaking "House of Cards" may be the first digital series nominated for a best drama Emmy. But it will start with a Webby.

The Webby Awards are honoring "House of Cards" producers Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti with a Webby special achievement award. The political thriller, for which Netflix released all 13 episodes at once, proved that digital media can produce cable-quality drama. Netflix also won for best streaming media site.

The 17th annual Webbys, which celebrate Internet achievement, are to be officially announced Tuesday. Winners range from Justin Bieber (for the social media campaign for his fragrance launch) to The Onion (now with a record 19 total Webbys) to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog for The New York Times.

The Webby person of the year is Frank Ocean, the R&B singer, whom the Webbys hailed "for proving the power of the Web as a medium for cultural change when he announced his bisexuality to his Tumblr community."

Singled out for outstanding comedic performance is Jerry Seinfeld, whose 10-episode Web series "Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee" showcased the "Seinfeld" star hanging out with comedian friends.

Webby categories are split into a regular award, chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and a "people's voice" award. The Australian rail safety public service campaign Dumb Ways to Die, which went viral, is an unlikely awards leader with seven Webbys.

GIF file inventor Steve Wilhite also will be honored with a lifetime achievement award. While working at CompuServe in the 1980s, Wilhite created the compressed 8-bit GIF (or Graphics Interchange Format) that remains a popular tool for lo-fi viral sharing.

Another special achievement award will go to President Barack Obama's election campaign for its use of technology in last year's presidential election. Claire Boucher, the Canadian synth-pop singer who performs under the name Grimes, is the Webby's artist of the year.

Other winners include HBO Go (four awards, including best media streaming service), Lady Gaga (for best celebrity-fan social presence), Conan O'Brien (for best celebrity-fan website) and The New York Times (best news social presence). A complete list of the awards will be posted later Tuesday at: http://Winners.WebbyAwards.com.

The awards will be handed out in a ceremony hosted by Patton Oswalt on May 21 in New York, and available to stream the following day. Acceptance speeches are famously limited to five words.

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