Netflix Was the Big Emmy Winner

If we're counting statues, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) got hosed on Sunday night.

The leading video service was up for 14 Emmy nominations across Netflix originals House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Arrested Development, but nearly walked away empty-handed. There were a pair of "creative arts" nods for outstanding casting and cinematography on House of Cards a week earlier, but then David Fincher nabbed the Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series award for House of Cards.

The night -- and the experiment -- was redeemed.

The freedom that Netflix provided Fincher in making the series in which the episodes didn't have to be uniform in length could be a big selling point in attracting other big names to Netflix's widening checkbook. As pay-TV growth stalls, limiting what traditional content outlets are willing to pay, Netflix is the one with the upside to ramp up its spending on new programming. Sunday night's win by Fincher ices the platform, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Hulu and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) join Netflix on Emmy ballots sooner rather than later. 

However, Fincher's win wasn't the only reason Netflix was last night's biggest winner. After all, Time Warner's HBO led the way with seven of the 26 Emmys handed out on Sunday night.

No, the reason Netflix was the top dog on Sunday night is because so many of the "We have to see this" conversations that erupted in millions of homes across the country will end with subscriptions to Netflix. 

A lot of the nominations have earlier seasons available on Netflix. Beyond House of Cards, of course, we find Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, 30 Rock, and Louie are among the growing number of shows available in Netflix's digital catalog. If any of the shows aren't available as streams -- don't worry -- Netflix has it on DVD. Now, it's true that Netflix's DVD subscribers have been falling sequentially for more than two years. We're now down to fewer than 8 million members paying for discs by mail, compared to the 36.3 million homes worldwide signed up to the flagship streaming smorgasbord. However, the days when Amazon.com or brick-and-mortar retailers were the big winners on Emmy night because they would lead to a spike in DVD sales is all but over. Why buy something that can only be seen once when you can either rent the series or stream at your own pace?

Amazon isn't crying, of course. It can point to Downton Abbey in its streaming arsenal, the hit BBC show for which it wrestled exclusivity away from Netflix earlier this year.

It's ironic. With every passing year, this annual prime-time television awards show is a bigger advertisement for the platform that threatens its traditional existence.

Well played, Netflix.

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Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (3)

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  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 9:33 AM, pauldeba wrote:

    Since many of the Emmys the past decade have been available on Netflix DVD or Streaming, you could use the same argument over and over again. Somehow, it just seems disingenuous since Netflix was nominated for several big time categories and lost them, so the backpedalling and revisionist history is intended to support the Bulls pre-determined opinion.

    Not sure how many of the Emmy watchers don’t have Netflix and also had conversations about “we need to see that” and subscribe to Netflix is nowhere near in “the millions”. The unfounded statement is so absurd. If it is 50K to 100K, it would be a win for Netflix. Emmy watchers are mainly entertainment addicts, Netflix needs people who watch sports or don’t watch much TV. They have already signed up all the boobtube shut-in addicts that waste their time watching Awards shows.

  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 10:00 AM, dinopontino1 wrote:

    Wow, all those titles are available on Pirate bay and Vuze as well. Are you saying that Pirate bay is worth 18 billion too?

  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 10:57 AM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    Paul, there are more shows on NFLX with every passing year. Mad Men didn't go on streaming until after the fourth season -- and Breaking Bad came after that.

    And the "we need to see that" argument isn't limited to non-subscribers. It also keeps active subscribers close, lowering churn.

    Oh, and winning 3 out of 14 is statistically better than the random 20% success rate.

    Dinopontino, if Pirate Bay has 36 million paying users or a Netflix-like moat vs. the competition, it would be a point worth considering.

  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 3:06 PM, MFMotleyStool wrote:

    This guys posts are as useless as he looks in his picture. He's a clown and you can guess which type.

  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 3:43 PM, lumike wrote:

    ^ thanks for your well thought out contribution

  • Report this Comment On September 24, 2013, at 5:27 PM, BTN100 wrote:

    Netflix has two things going for it : momentum from a large, established user base and quality unique content (as demonstrated by the Emmy). However, Netflix has received a lot of buzz from House of Cards, Orange, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, etc., in the past: I doubt these are new shows to any telephile who bothers to watch the Emmys.

    More importnat, there is nothing in this article to justify the price. No one is arguing that Netflix isn;t growing, but the stock is overpriced by any metric you look at. It's a classic bubble, complete with a exponential price spike (400% gain in 1 year? Sounds reasonable to me...)

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