Streaming services clean up at the Emmys

It was only a few years ago that streaming services were included in the Primetime Emmy awards, when Netflix scored its first win for its drama series “House of Cards.” Today, streaming services are mopping up the awards that used to be reserved for traditional TV networks, and last night’s 2016 Emmys were no exception. Both Netflix and Amazon again took home several trophies each, while cable network-turned-online-streamer HBO trumped all with a half-dozen wins.

Amazon, though a newer entry into the streaming services market, has been increasingly competitive on the creative front with groundbreaking series like “Transparent” – a show which is, in many ways, representative of the type of content that only streaming services or cable TV can deliver. Unlike network fare which has to cater to the broadest demographic in order to earn the right to stay on the air, streaming services can invest in quality, even when that means catering to a smaller audience.

“Transparent,” despite its numerous Emmy nods and wins, is not considered a hit show based on its ratings. According to ratings from Symphony Advanced Media, the show falls short when compared with series on other streaming rivals like Hulu and Netflix.

The second season of “Transparent” saw 1.49 million total adult viewers. Netflix’s reboot of “Full House,” meanwhile, pulled in 21.51 million adult viewers. (As they say, there’s no accounting for taste.) Other Netflix shows that top “Transparent” include “The Ranch,” “F is for Family,” “Master of None,” “Love,” “Flaked” and “With Bob & David.”

Of course, winning an Emmy isn’t tied to viewership numbers, but rather the quality and the creative endeavor itself. On that front, “Transparent” still scores. Amazon won Outstanding Directing (Jill Soloway) and best Lead Actor (Jeffrey Tambor) Emmys.

Netflix, meanwhile, didn’t do badly either, with three wins for its original programming, including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn on “Bloodline;” Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series for “Master of None” (Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang); and Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special for “Patton Oswalt: Talking For Clapping.”

Ansari’s “Master of None” is the sort of thing that Hollywood’s network TV has ignored or failed to do well – that is, develop a show whose central character is Asian. Yang even pleaded for more diversity like this in his Emmy acceptance speech, saying, “there’s 17 million Asian-Americans in this country, and there’s 17 million Italian Americans. They have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We got ‘Long Duk Dong,’ so we’ve got a long way to go.”

HBO did well last night, too. While it’s not necessarily just a streaming service, the network has been moving to go after Netflix’s audience in more recent months. Today, HBO is both a premium cable network as well as an over-the-top service via HBO NOW, and has been expanding into more types of content, including a news show for millennials from VICE News as well as family friendly programming, thanks to its Sesame Workshop deal. 

The network-slash-streamer cleaned up at the Emmys, with three awards for “Game of Thrones” (best drama, best writing, and best directing), plus two for “Veep” (best actress and best comedy), and one for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (best variety talk series).