Perceived by many as frilly and ornamental, Hollywood awards have also provided meaningful marketing equity for online video powerhouses like Netflix and Amazon, which have—along with their sizable original series budgets—lured top-level creative talent based at least in part on the credibility of Tinseltown kudos.
But just as these platforms up their original series bets to record levels—Netflix is estimated to have spent $5 billion on original series production in 2016, SNL Kagan said—the air seems to to have leaked out of the old prestige balloon.
Netflix, which first disrupted the Hollywood trophy business in 2013, when House of Card garnered 9 Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe nods, ended up with just 5 Golden Globe noms last week.
The Golden Globes are voted on by a nefarious bunch of foreign entertainment journalists: members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). They’re usually focused on theatrical movies this time of year, and no Netflix series has actually ever won a Golden Globe.
But the nominations have, nonetheless, given credibility to Netflix originals including Bloodline, Grace and Frankie, House of Cards, Master of None, Orange Is the New Black and Narcos. All of these series received at least one Globe nod last year. They were all shut out this year. The only Netflix shows recognized this year by the HFPA were period drama The Crown (Claire Foy and John Lithgow received actor nominations) and science fiction drama Stranger Things (resurgent actress Winona Ryder got a nod, and the show was tapped for best TV drama series).
Likewise, Amazon—which put itself on the originals map a year after Netflix with shows like Transparent—received only 5 nominations. Hulu, which is also spending a boatload on originals, was completely shut out by the HFPA.
HBO, meanwhile, cleaned up with 14 nominations,, led by the J.J. Abrams-produced sci-fi remake Westworld and the drama Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker.
Granted, it’s just one awards show—Netflix received 54 Emmy nominations over the fall, just behind HBO and FX. But for SVOD giants who had seen their awards clout steadily expand since 2013 right along with their original series budgets, it does mark a sudden reversal.
These days, Netflix and Amazon are competing head-on with Hollywood’s major TV studios for talent. Speaking to investors last week at UBS’ annual media and telecom conference, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves said, “Netflix and Hulu have driven production costs up to astronomical levels.”
Indeed, the studios are finding themselves outbid for key creative talent in many cases. In fact, 21st Century Fox is currently suing Netflix for poaching several of its top film executives.
Of course, it’s mainly about money, but awards prestige factors in, too.
Just one example: Before she created Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black—an awards juggernaut before hitting a brick wall with the HFPA this year—writer-producer Jenji Kohan received acclaim for creating Showtime’s Weeds. Would Kohan have worked for Netflix if it meant removing herself from the map in Hollywood and taking herself out of the awards game? Would David Fincher (who directed acclaimed films like Fight Club before creating House of Cards) do the same? How about Shawn Levy (Stranger Things)?
"It is very hard to create a program of the quality to win an Emmy," said Lucy Hood, the chief operating officer of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which manages the Emmys, to CNET, shortly after House of Cards broke on the scene. "It's about creative excellence. Winning an Emmy confers credibility, a standard of excellence ...The great producers and directors and writers of today are obviously very interested in being acknowledge by their peers.”