How will Streaming Change the Emmys?

streaming-emmys

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian comments on the future of Streaming Live Events.

The continued success of streaming video content has many traditional TV networks trying to figure out how to jump on the bandwagon without destroying their current, profitable business model. The NFL recently announced a deal to stream Thursday Night Football on Twitter, and many NCAA games are available to watch on ESPN3.

Meanwhile, many new popular shows are only available through streaming services. Netflix and Amazon are fighting tooth and nail against each other and against traditional networks for recognition. And it looks like, this year, they will get it.

Netflix has the third highest number of nominations – 54 – just behind HBO and FX. That’s 20 more than the streaming-only network got in 2015. Even Amazon, which trails behind Netflix in popularity for unique streaming content, scored 16 nominations this year.

Streaming content has come a long way in the eight years since the Academy first declared them eligible for awards.

But, to date, the Emmys have not recognized streaming programs for awards contention. But the streaming networks hardly made a blip until the breakout Netflix hit House of Cards blew away network competition to become a darling of both fans and critics.

The strength of Netflix – accessibility – can also be a weakness. Fans don’t have that built-in weeklong wait for the next episode, so, if the show is interesting, they can get hooked and binge-watch the entire series. But, if the series gets boring, fans will give up just as fast, because they don’t have to wait, there’s no “patience pay off” motivating them to keep tuning in.

This logistic is fine with shows like Stranger Things and House of Cards, which maintained huge followings front to back, but it has proven to be difficult for certain programs, like the initially popular Orange is the New Black, which lost fans in the third season for perceived stagnation. To them, not having to wait meant “too much of the same all at once.”

Meanwhile, as the streaming services expand their reach, basic network TV is struggling to find an audience. The last time a major network series – CBS’s The Good Wife – was nominated for outstanding drama series was way back in 2011. Emmy voters still like network TV for comedies, offering nods to Modern Family and Black-ish.

But critics say that will be short-lived as well. Broadcast doesn’t like to take risks, and comedies are easier to pull off as formulas than dramas can be. Fans are clamoring for intense, surprising dramas and heroes who aren’t so cookie cutter. You can’t get that much on network programming.

Viewers can get that on some basic cable networks, like AMC and FX, which have captured fans in recent years with gritty serial dramas like Sons of Anarchy, Justified, and The Walking Dead. What could these shows and these characters do unleashed on streaming TV, where there are fewer restrictions on content? That may be a question the Big Streamers will answer sooner rather than later.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, and one of America’s most well-respected Public Relations professionals.

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