It’s funny that two of the nominees for television’s biggest awards show, the Primetime Emmy Awards, are not even broadcast on television, much less aired in the evening with the other shows. “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development” live exclusively on the digital streaming service Netflix (although the latter got its start on Fox).
To watch them on their television sets, viewers either stream them, maybe from gaming console, or pop a disc into a DVR to watch them any time they want, sometimes days or months after they were released.
It appears that the Academy was also watching. Actors Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, who play Francis and Claire Underwood in “House of Cards,” were nominated along with director David Fincher. Jason Bateman received a nod for his role as Michael Bluth in “Arrested Development.”
When the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences released its list of nominations for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards today, it included many of the usual suspects, largely cable shows that only a paying segment of the larger television audience can watch.
The funny thing is, many of the other nominees for this year’s awards ceremony have a second life on Netflix. Fans of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones” can also watch these shows days, weeks, and even years after they are first aired, for slightly less than they would pay for a cable subscription.
Netflix had started producing its own shows in response to dwindling willingness from the networks to loan out their material for this very reason. Whether the artistic merit of these shows can compare to that of the other nominees remains to be seen. But it’s promising that Netflix, still in its early stages as a producer of original content, is already on the list.
Disrupted business models aside, what’s really interesting about this is that the format of a television show — a longer narrative arc that viewers can watch in half-hour or hour-long chunks — still holds up even when viewers aren’t forced into it by commercials and time slots.