Depending on how you read the results, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) either won big at the Emmys this year, or was completely snubbed.
A disappointing Emmy night
Sure, its original shows like Orange is the New Black collected 31 nominations, more than twice the nods over last year. And Netflix took home seven statues, again better than double what it managed in 2013. That's not bad for a company that just recently got serious about original programming.
Still, it's hard not to see this year's tally as a letdown. After all, Netflix made TV history in 2013 by winning the first major primetime Emmy for a streaming-only show (directing, House of Cards). This year, it didn't grab any awards on television's big night.
Instead, all of its wins came at an earlier ceremony that's reserved for mostly technical categories. Orange is the New Black was probably the biggest disappointment. The hit show wasn't eligible at last year's party, and was up for 12 awards this time, including "best comedy" and "best lead actress in a comedy." But it won for just three categories: guest acting, casting, and single-camera picture editing.
HBO is still No. 1
By contrast, HBO's True Detective took home five awards by itself, helping that channel collect 19 wins to lead all networks for the 13th year in a row.
It's no secret that Netflix judges itself against HBO's success. In fact, CEO Reed Hastings announced in a Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) post last month that Netflix was proud to have just passed HBO in quarterly subscriber revenue, although he also admitted that the network "still kicks our ass in profit and Emmys."
But the streaming video pioneer is making progress on raising its original content game, one weak Emmy night aside. A recent survey testing how people perceive programming quality put Netflix second only to HBO -- and already ahead of networks like Showtime and Starz, which have been in the business for much longer.
Foolish bottom line
Netflix investors shouldn't fret about Netflix's original programming strategy. The shows don't need Emmy buzz to sustain their popularity. And they seem to be doing fine by that metric. They've all been renewed for second and, in most cases, third seasons so far, which means that they are clearing management's investment return hurdles. And there are many more series in the pipeline, including Marco Polo, which Chief Content Office Ted Sarandos highlighted as "ambitious" in a recent conference call with analysts. That show debuts on the streaming service in December.
And while Netflix's House of Cards might not have won in the drama category this year, the company still owns streaming rights for the show that did. Several major Emmy award winners, including Breaking Bad, are on its service -- even if they aren't Netflix originals. So, while Netflix didn't strike gold on TV's big night, it did take home some decent consolation prizes while making progress against its bigger rival.
Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Facebook and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.