Why the 2021 Emmys Are a Victory for New Hollywood | Hacker Noon

New Hollywood, represented by hybrid movie and television streaming services, won 71 Emmys. Netflix won 44 Emmys, including 44 for Netflix, which tied an all-time record. Netflix has been nominated for 54 Academy Awards, winning 15 – including seven in 2021. HBO Max, launched in 2020, won 19 Emmys –15 for HBO, and four for HBO Max. Netflix deserves its accolades, but never count out Apple TV is a triple threat: movies, television, and music. Amazon Prime Video has a Branding Problem; HBO Max is expected to win.


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@davidjdealDavid Deal

David Deal is a marketing executive, digital junkie, and pop culture lover.

The war between New Hollywood and Old Media at the Emmy Awards is over. New Hollywood, represented by the hybrid movie and television streaming services, has won decisively.

New Hollywood brought home a total of 71 Emmys including 44 for Netflix, which tied an all-time record. Old Media, consisting of broadcast and cable networks, won 31. The Emmys are now a barometer for keeping tabs on New Hollywood compete with each other.

Here are some additional conclusions from the 2021 Emmys:

Netflix Rules

Netflix did not start creating original content until 2013. Since then, Netflix has been nominated for 748 Emmys and won 156 times. Now consider this also: Netflix has been nominated for 54 Academy Awards, winning 15 – including seven in 2021. The Oscars, representing an Old Hollywood establishment, has been less generous to Netflix, partly because Netflix has disrupted the Old Hollywood moneymaking model. But you cannot deny that in 2021, Netflix took home its all-time single season count for Oscars and Emmys, with 51 combined. The time is coming soon when Netflix will dominate both. 

There you have it: in eight years, Netflix has transformed itself from content host to content creator. This is a breathtaking transformation that will be studied for years to come. But an open question remains: how will Netflix monetize its content beyond subscriber growth without accepting advertising? One answer: merchandising, as the launch of Netflix.Shop suggests.

The Disney Empire Strikes Back

The 14 Emmys won by Disney+ affirms Disney’s remarkable reinvention as a New Hollywood company. In 2019, Disney – perhaps the most iconic brand name in entertainment – made a bold move into New Hollywood by buying a stake in Hulu and then launching Disney+. Disney could now monetize its vast library and also create new content, most promisingly for the coveted Marvel and Star Wars franchises.  What Disney could not have known was that a global pandemic would devastate its theme parks business while driving a surge in streaming viewers. Disney’s foothold in streaming paid off: by the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, Disney+ subscribers had grown to 73 million even while the company was reporting steep declines in attendance. Disney saw which way the wind was blowing and organized its company around digital content. The move is paying off: thanks partly to new titles such as the wildly popular The Mandalorian, as well as an aggressive approach to releasing new movie titles on Disney+, the streaming service’s subscriber base has ballooned to 116 million. Fittingly,  The Mandalorian was the most nominated show at the 2021 Emmys, with 24 noms. The Mandalorian ended up winning seven. The future looks bright for Disney: Disney+ continues to develop fresh new content such as Loki – and Disney, more than any other New Hollywood company, knows how to monetize that content with smart merchandising. 

Apple TV Is Ascending

I am equally intrigued by the 10 Emmys won by Apple TV+, up from one in 2020. Granted, most of these were for Ted Lasso, and Apple TV+ has a very long road ahead in an increasingly crowded market. But Apple is patient. And Apple has deep pockets. Look at the rise of Apple Music. Apple was once the laughingstock of the music world — remember the disastrous forced download of U2’s Songs of Innocence back in 2014? Well, no one is laughing anymore. Apple learned its lesson that streaming was the future, not downloads. Then in 2015, Apple launched Apple Music, which is now one of the most popular music streaming services in the world. Netflix deserves its accolades. But never count out Apple. Apple is a triple threat: movies, television, and music. 

Amazon Prime Video Has a Branding Problem

Amazon Prime Video won zero Emmys, down from four in 2020. Amazon Prime Video has certainly had good showings in past years. But I believe its association with Amazon might be costing Amazon Prime Video some credibility with organizations such as the Television Academy, which includes 16,000 Emmy voting members.

Like Apple, Amazon is a triple threat in movies, television, and music (plus gaming if you count Twitch), with Amazon Prime Video accounting for movies and TV. Amazon has made no bones about the company’s strategy for Amazon Prime Video: attract more Amazon Prime customers. Approximately 200 million people around the world pay more than $119 a year to be members of Amazon Prime. Among the benefits of being a Prime member is having a subscription to Amazon Prime Video. Amazon says that 175 million Prime members actually watch Prime Video – a sizable number (versus more than 200 million for Netflix). Amazon Prime Video, in other words, is a means to an end: attract more Amazon Prime members. As Jeff Bezos once said, “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.” But the price Amazon pays for this strategy is critical prestige. All streaming services are capitalistic enterprises, but Amazon Prime’s competitors live and die on their content. Amazon Prime Video could consider rebranding if winning more awards were more important. But I suspect Amazon is happy to give up some snob appeal and keep things the way they are: Prime members spend reportedly 133 percent more annually than non-Prime members. Amazon can bandage its wounds with cash. 

A lot of Amazon Prime Video’s future hinges on the reception of The Lord of the Rings television adaptation in 2022. A successful roll-out could be a game-changer.

Whither HBO Max?

Many news media reported that together HBO and HBO Max won 19 Emmys – 15 for HBO, and four for HBO Max. But that’s a deceptive number because HBO and HBO Max are not really together. They share the HBO name, but they exist alongside each other under WarnerMedia. HBO Max streams HBO content, but it is not a product of HBO. Another difference: HBO is expected to win Emmys. HBO Max, launched in 2020, is still establishing itself. Even still, HBO Max did win four Emmys in its first year of existence. 

Keep an eye on HBO Max. As a subsidiary of WarnerMedia, HBO Max can and does stream non-HBO content – notably, the entire line-up of 2021 films from Warner Brothers. HBO Max is steadily gaining subscribers, too. As WarnerMedia merges with Discovery, it may make sense for HBO Max to become an even more powerful source of streaming content (possibly by merging with Discovery+) with HBO maintaining a toehold on the declining cable industry. But HBO Max is just starting out in the production of original content – about where Netflix was in 2013 – and HBO Max already has snagged four Emmys. The WarnerMedia/Discovery deal is not expected to close until sometime in 2022. HBO Max has plenty of time to keep building credibility. 

What’s Next for the Holy Trinity?

Movies, television, and music form the foundation of hybrid New Hollywood – with gaming still emerging for the streaming companies. New Hollywood is shaping a new future that is both fragmented (by platform) while integrated (through content). The Emmy Awards matter because they demonstrate the growth of New Hollywood’s Holy Trinity. 

Disclaimer: I invest in Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Disney, and Netflix


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