In 2013, Netflix earned 14 nominations. Last year, they had 112, surpassing Emmy darling HBO. The addition of streaming networks to the television landscape has drastically changed how viewers consume TV and how networks measure success. Brand awareness and a strong subscriber base have become integral parts of a network’s success, which is reflected in the way Emmy campaigning has changed.
The Emmy Race Is Hotter Than Ever, And HBO Laid The Groundwork
Streaming has upped the ante for Emmy campaigns, which are now more expensive than ever before. Networks are all competing for subscribers and the caché of being the most well-loved network. According to Variety “Outlets like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are emulating the strategy that HBO originated by spending tens of millions of dollars on Emmy campaigns designed to rack up brand-building awards — and ultimately attract subscribers.” When HBO started gaming the Emmys in the 1990s, it changed the strategy for other networks, including how they budget for Emmy campaigns. HBO wasn’t necessarily trying to garner higher ratings, but by consistently pushing their shows into winning positions HBO grew their brand awareness, which ultimately translated into revenue. “Of all of the shows HBO has ever programmed, only a handful would be something you would brag about from a ratings standpoint. And yet they’re making more money than anyone,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf.
Netflix And Chill And A Cluttered Marketplace
Caché is one thing, but so are eyeballs on the screen, and with a glut of shows right now trying to get viewers to choose Netflix over Amazon over Hulu over Apple is another major component of this year’s heated up Emmy campaigning. Variety notes, “In 1992, there were 29 dramas and 50 comedies submitted for eligibility. By 2012, the year before the arrival of the streaming army, 87 shows were submitted for outstanding drama series consideration, while 64 shows were entered for best comedy. In 2018, that number had soared to 159 drama contenders and 117 comedy entrants.”
Of course, the massive amount of content isn’t just burdensome (or awesome) for viewers, it also presents a conundrum for Emmy campaigns. For Your Consideration (FYC) activations include events, like panels with cast members, screenings and Instagram-friendly exhibits and there often isn’t enough time for all the events to be well attended; the marketers with deep pockets tend to have the higher profiles and more widely attended events. This has been an ongoing problem for several years, resulting in more innovative Emmy campaigns and bold moves from creators to get their shows noticed.
Digital Innovations And Strategic Partnerships Across The Emmy Universe
As of 2020, Emmy voters will no longer be receiving screener DVDs. In the past, screeners were sent to every voter with the hope they would watch and vote for their favorites, but network executives decided to ban the wasteful practice and the Television Academy may move to their own digital viewing platform, gated for members only. Shows are also encouraged to create microsites exclusively for voters.
Naturally, many Emmy viewers will want to stream the Emmys ceremony and preshow digitally. People magazine is the official entertainment magazine partner of the Television Academy for the 14th year, and has exclusive rights to the digital pre-show, which will be streamed on PeopleTV. Fox.com and the FOX NOW app will be streaming the ceremony.
The TV landscape has changed forever, and with it how brands and networks position themselves in the market. Recent evolutions in meeting viewer expectations include Google’s enhanced “what to watch” search, and the upcoming launch of “Peacock,” NBCUniversal’s new streaming service. As viewers become more adept and their TV choices more fragmented, the stakes get higher and marketers must rise to the occasion.