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Streaming Services, Our New Television

BY: Kaitlyn Ward

Netflix is upping the competition at the Primetime Emmy Awards this year, being the first streaming service to be nominated for their original programming, “House of Cards” and “Hemlock Grove,” as well as receiving nominations for Fox’s former hit TV show, “Arrested Development” that Netflix picked up for a fourth season, totaling fourteen nominations overall. One must ask themselves, what does this mean for the future of broadcast and cable networks?

HBO is no stranger to the world of streaming, since it launched HBO GO in February of 2010. Being aware of what competition lies ahead of them is probably how they have stayed so dominant for the 13th year in a row as the most nominated network at the Primetime Emmy Awards. This year alone, HBO received 108 nominations and is undoubtedly one of Netflix’s biggest competitors.

So where exactly does all this leave cable? As a recent film school graduate, a particular class discussion comes to my mind. During a class lecture in my last semester, industry professionals, many of them producers, writers and directors, posed the question, “Do any of you have cable?” The class, comprised of around forty students, sat still, staring at each other. None of us had cable. Film school students with no cable? The industry professionals appeared a bit surprised and mostly pleased.
Sure, one could argue that, of course poor college students don’t want to pay for cable, but when asked the follow up question, “Would you pay for cable service if you could afford it,” we all replied “No.” Instead, our responses were, Netflix, Hulu, stealing our parents HBO GO, and, of course, Amazon Prime. Who needs cable? Apparently, not the twenty somethings. If this small sample is at all indicative of current trends, it would appear that broadcast and cable networks should consider upping their ante. This is further demonstrated by the Primetime Emmy’s granting recognition for the original programming of Netflix.

So, why did the Primetime Emmy’s, a “TV” awards ceremony, nominate an online streaming service such as Netflix. Certainly, the Emmy’s have allowed eligibility to digital programming since 2007, but what is it about Netflix that pushed the envelope and made it the first streaming service to be nominated for awards in major categories?

“Arrested Development” was a sure bet for success with Netflix, already having a pre-established cult following that arose during its debut in 2003. The show has received numerous accolades and praise since its opening season. The show follows the dysfunctional Bluth family as their father is imprisoned, and son Michael Bluth takes over the family business, while the rest of his family enjoy making Michael’s life miserable. With a large following, and stellar cast and crew, Netflix picking up “Arrested Development” has proved to be positive for them as they gained 630,000 new U.S. subscribers.

“House of Cards” was a more significant risk for Netflix, who was not exactly sure how viewers would respond, but remained confident. “House of Cards” follows Frank Underwood, a Democratic congressman from South Carolina, who was promised by President Garrett Walker to be appointed as Secretary of State. When Frank learns that President Walker has changed his mind about appointing him, he, along with his wife, Claire Underwood, seeks revenge. The show earned Netflix a soar in subscribership of more than two million in the first quarter.

This new way of viewership of TV through streaming services is clearly indicative of what the future holds. Anyone on the inside such as actors, casting directors, producers, directors, and writers is aware that jumping on board and heading down the stream is a smart career choice as demonstrated by big Hollywood names such as director David Fincher and actor Kevin Spacey with “House of Cards.”

It is evident that in a time of the ever-evolving digital world, Netflix and HBO appear to be creatively and strategically remaining competitive. Streaming services is not only positive for industry professionals, but audiences as well. It allows yet another platform for art and a way for viewers to become engaged much more rapidly, binge watching their favorite shows in one place.

Both Netflix and HBO refused to comment.