The world of streaming versus traditional broadcast
When the Emmys began, there was no alternative to shows produced by traditional television brands, but this domination is no longer the case. Streaming-based platform, Netflix, nabbed 92 nominations alone this year vs 54 nominations in 2016. While it lags in comparison to the 110 nominations HBO—the premium cable group—received, the number is a record high for Netflix and streaming-based platforms like it. The end result is clear: this year, the battle is on.
Even fans of the awards show took part in the debate, tweeting about their preferences for network, cable, or streaming services as the show progressed:
Network can’t compete with quality of cable and streaming #Emmys
— Nicole (@Nicole80017) September 18, 2017
I really think Hulu and Netflix are going to be big winners tonight. Network tv needs to figure it out. #Emmys
— Jenny Shoemacher (@cubsgirl23) September 18, 2017
But fans were not the only ones noting the tension in the media landscape. Emmy host, Stephen Colbert, brought a bit of comedy to the conflict between the groups in his introductory monologue, rattling off a series of light-hearted jokes:
“There have never been more platforms to get your TV than right now. You have broadcast, cable, Amazon, you have YouTube, uh Hulu, Voodoo, Netflix, Vitamix, Vimeo, you have Twitch, you have Crackle Crunchel, Bumble, Twerk, Glerp, Flurp, Über-eyeball, and dintymorestu.com…”
But Colbert did not stop there, continuing on saying,
“Netflix, alone, raked in 92 nominations this year…and let me remind you that five years ago, their hottest show was a scratched DVD of Finding Nemo. Now we’ve got amazing shows like, Stranger Things…”
“Of course, premium cable still has a lot of great shows. I am sure that HBO will take home a lot of Emmys tonight…”
Colbert left no stone unturned as he went on to target broadcast television groups, like CBS:
“Broadcast TV also had its triumph this year…remember broadcast? The TV O.G. where it all started? Broadcast TV is breaking new ground, in fact, this season CBS will have twice as many Sheldons as any other network in history. All the broadcast networks have put out great shows this past year, like ‘This Is Us’.”
These diplomatic jests demonstrated the poignant, underlying cut-throat competition between the groups. According to a recent study from the Nielson group, between 2011 and 2017 more than 40 percent of millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 have migrated away from traditional television viewing time to alternatives, like streaming services. Meanwhile, their older counterparts between the ages of 50 and 60+ tend to stick to traditional viewing methods. As time goes on and the audience base for new television providers grows, streaming services are starting to feel the competition amongst themselves.
Tuna Amobi, a media and entertainment equity analyst for S&P Global Markets Intelligence, explained to The Guardian in 2016 that, “Domestically, there’s no doubt that the landscape has gotten a lot more competitive for Netflix.” The number of streaming services continues to expand: HBO recently released their own stand-alone streaming service, in addition to services like Hulu and Amazon Prime.
This competition became clear in the Emmys through the acceptance speeches given. Wins included Charlie Brooker of Black Mirror, a Netflix series, for Best Writing for a Limited Series or Movie, Reed Morano of The Handmaid’s Tale of Hulu for Best Directing for a Drama Series and The Handmaid’s Tale for Outstanding Drama Series. Strangely enough, the first words out of many winners’ mouths were thank you to their production house, with loyalty from members of the streaming services such as Hulu. Most noteworthy was Elizabeth Moss, winner of Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. While accepting her award, the first sentence she said was “Thank you to Hulu,” before thanking family and co-workers.
In the light of it all, do the Emmy’s show that the death of traditional broadcast series coming, as the quality and selection of streaming services increases? Or will traditional services adapt to a changing environment?