Why Netflix Had A Rough Night at The Emmys

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A lot of ink has been spilled over the crazy success Netflix has had over the last two years with its devotion to original series. The streaming service took home its first Primetime Emmy last year for the Kevin Spacey-fronted political drama “House of Cards,” and was expected by many to rake in its fair share of statuettes last night for its much buzzed-about prison comedy “Orange Is The New Black.” As it turned out, aside from some jokes from Seth Meyers about Netflix being the youngest and prettiest girl at the ball, the streaming service had a fairly uneventful night at the 66th Annual Emmy Awards. Despite earning 31 nominations, the streamer took home only 7 Emmys — most of them in less prestigious technical categories.

The outstanding win went to Uzo Aduba who took home an Emmy for Guest Actress in A Comedy Series for her role as Suzanne aka “Crazy Eyes” on “Orange Is The New Black.” The rest of the wins came from technical categories at the Creative Arts Emmys “Sound Mixing in a Drama or Comedy Series.” While impressive, the Creative Arts Emmys don’t carry the same cultural cache as the Primetime awards which tend to honor major stars and household names. So why didn’t Netflix get more recognition when their shows were some of the year’s most talked about? Here are some popular theories:

It’s All Timing – Netflix had two shows in contention and its only drama, “House of Cards,” was up against “Breaking Bad” in almost every category. This year marked the final season of “Breaking Bad” so Emmy voters wanted to take their last chance to shower Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and series creator Vince Gilligan with Emmy gold

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–          It’s the Culture­ – Emmy voters tend to be older and more traditional than the standard Netflix watching public. “Orange Is The New Black” may be one of the most talked about shows of the year, but a female-centric prison comedy with a lot of lesbian sex might be a bit too risqué. “Modern Family” is about as brave as Emmy voters are willing to get, which is why that show and “The Big Bang Theory” walked away with the bulk of the comedy prizes despite being far less adventurous.

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–          It’s Generational – There are way more Academy voters over 50 than under and most of those people are used to consuming television content rather than streaming video. It stands to reason that they would more strongly identify with shows and actors working in a more traditional medium meaning fewer votes for digital series overall.

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Netflix tends to hold the banner for the online video industry at mainstream events like the Emmys. Last year’s wins were seen as validation that streaming video could compete on an even footing with traditional television. It remains to be seen whether others in the streaming world will see last nights snubs as a setback for the industry, or just an opportunity to snatch Netflix’s crown.

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