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Streaming Services Continue Emmy Domination

Streaming Services Continue Emmy Domination

Steve Heisler

Phoebe Waller Bridge holding her Emmys

Netflix and Amazon won big at last night’s Emmys, but Disney stole some buzz

It’s clear from one glance at last night’s Emmy winners that streaming networks continue to dominate. Here’s how some of the bigger players fared, and more on their marketing efforts:


Continuing a trend that began in 2013, Netflix pulled in more Emmy nominations than it did the year prior—117 this year, 112 last. It also won four more Emmys than last year (up to 27), including Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Jharrel Jerome, “When They See Us”), Outstanding Television Movie (“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”), Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Julia Garner, “Ozark”) and Directing for a Drama Series (Jason Bateman, “Ozark”).

The company’s marketing efforts seem to have paid off. Given that the streaming giant saw more than 40 of its shows nominated, Netflix focused this season on targeted marketing promoting “Ozark,” “Russian Doll,” “Bodyguard” and “When They See Us,” all earning nominations in prominent categories. The Emmy campaign included screenings in a 400-person theater and a reception area where fans could snap selfies in show-themed areas.


While Netflix and HBO took home more Emmys, Amazon Prime Video won more of the higher-profile categories. Its original series “Fleabag” was awarded Outstanding Comedy Series, and whose star and creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, took home prizes in Writing for a Comedy Series and Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Meanwhile, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” swept both Supporting Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series awards with wins from Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein.

This year’s marketing departed from the norm. Citing possible confusion, Amazon had previously branded itself as Prime Video to differentiate it from the online retail juggernaut from whence it came. But they’re now referring to themselves as Amazon Prime Video. “We’ve shifted our focus into saying the products that we make from an original content perspective is an Amazon Original, and that could be anything from a series to a movie to a special,” says Amazon Studios marketing head Mike Benson, speaking to Variety.



Major streaming claustrophobia arrives in November when Disney debuts Disney+, and the competitive urgency increased when the first ad for the service aired during the Emmys. Marketing has already begun for its upcoming slate of shows and films, which includes “The Mandalorian”—a show from the “Star Wars” universe—a reboot of “Lady and the Tramp” and “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.” Subscriptions are available for pre-order as well.

The commercial is just one step in a major marketing blitz. Sarah Vizard writes in Marketing Week, “Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company would be treating the launch as its most important in 15 years, with a marketing plan to match.”

Likely anticipating the upcoming streaming wars, the Emmys broadcast also included ads from Apple, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix.

The field is about to expand exponentially, but Marketing Land advises that streaming services should stand out by thinking small, not trying to be comprehensive. Disney’s ad emphasized that its slate of shows covers multiple genres, meaning it can appeal to niche audiences—such as fans of the movie “High School Musical,” as one of its new shows is entitled “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”

Given the amount of upcoming competition in an increasingly fragmented entertainment industry, expect major marketing blitzes come summer when nominations begin.

Steve Heisler served as staff writer at the American Marketing Association. His work can be found in Rolling Stone, GQ, The A.V. Club and Chicago Sun-Times. He may be reached at