Streaming services are continuing their march into Hollywood, competing head-on with network television not only for viewership numbers, but now also for critical acclaim and industry recognition.
At last night’s Primetime Emmy awards, services including Amazon, Netflix and – if you count it – HBO, which this year launched its own over-the-top option for cord cutters with HBO NOW, dominated the annual awards show, scoring trophies for “Transparent” (Amazon), “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), “Game of Thrones” (HBO) and “Veep” (HBO).
HBO was the big winner of the night thanks to both “Game of Thrones” and “Veep.” The network, today available cross-platform to both cable and satellite TV subscribers through HBO GO in addition to those without pay TV accounts through HBO NOW, won a record number of Emmys this year with 43 wins following 126 nominations. That’s only one win behind the record CBS set back in 1974.
While HBO’s network is still often thought of only as a premium cable TV offering, the channel in more recent months has made several moves to better compete in the new streaming video landscape where services like Netflix still reign.
For example, HBO this year scored a notable five-year deal with Sesame Workshop to broaden the type of content it offers. The deal will see HBO gaining access to first-run episodes of the children’s TV show “Sesame Street” starting in the fall.
It also this spring launched HBO NOW, a dedicated app that allows consumers to subscribe to HBO programming without a traditional pay TV subscription and then watch on connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, televisions through streaming media players like Apple TV, and the web.
In other words, HBO’s Emmy victories aren’t necessarily a win for the old-school network TV model, but rather an indication that consumers today are watching television programming in new ways – streaming, “over the top,” on mobile and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Netflix also walked away with a handful of Emmys, following last night’s show and the earlier Creative Arts Emmys.
Amazon won its first Emmy for “Transparent,” where Jeffrey Tambor won for lead actor in a comedy for his role in the critically beloved series. “Transparent,” which depicts a father coming out to his family as transgender, is an ideal example of the kind of niche but quality programming that streaming services can deliver to audiences. The show may not have succeeded on traditional network television, where the humorous, but also deeply introspective series, could have had trouble gaining the number of viewers required to keep it on air.
“Transparent” director Jill Soloway also won last night, while the three other Amazon Emmys, including one for “Transparent” guest actor Bradley Whitford, had been handed out at the earlier-held ceremony.
Meanwhile, Netflix won fewer Emmys than Amazon.
The streaming network took home just four Emmys despite having received 34 nominations to Amazon’s 12. This was a decline from last year’s seven Emmy wins for Netflix. However, in 2014, Netflix’s awards were handed out at the Creative Arts Emmys, while last night, Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) took the stage following her win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
For Netflix, the decrease in wins could be attributed in part to the fact that its critically acclaimed show “Orange is the New Black” had to compete this year as a drama, not a comedy.
Netflix’s new show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Amazon’s “Transparent” both lost out to HBO’s “Veep” for Outstanding Comedy Series. And Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” lost to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which won for best drama.
The Emmy wins for the streaming services follow Netflix and Amazon’s decent showing at this year’s Golden Globes, where the two also walked away with a number of awards.