Netflix’s success at the Emmys is a major media breakthrough

A dramatic Emmy moment occurred last week at TCA Press Tour when Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, told the TV critics, “It’s hard to believe that this is only the third year that we’ve been in the business of creating original programming for Netflix. It’s also hard to believe how much the landscape has changed in that short time. On February 1st of 2013, less than 30 months ago, we only had two shows, just 21 episodes of content, hardly enough to get your attention for very long.”

Now consider this: Netflix is tied with HBO for having the most programs up for the top series awards — three: Best Comedy (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Best Drama (“House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black”). That’s impressive.

Last year the streaming service won a major race: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Uza Aduba. Now that “Orange Is the New Black” has moved over to the drama categories, Aduba competes for Best Supporting Drama Actress and is within striking distance of winning (12-to-1 odds). Meantime, Tina Fey (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) leads Aduba’s old guest-acting comedy race with 8-to-13 odds and “Kimmy” also leads the contests for comedy guest actor (Jon Hamm with 8-to-13 odds) and supporting actor (Tituss Burgess with 7 to 5 odds).

Netflix also has a shot to win Best Supporting Drama Actor if third-place Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”) pulls through (10 to 1).

“Our programming has been nominated for 34 Emmys this year” Sarandos added. “They cover 11 different shows, and this is after winning the Best Animated Series Emmy Award for ‘All Hail King Julien’  at the Daytime Emmys and additionally being nominated for five News and Doc Emmys this year.”

In 2013, “House of Cards” became the first online program to be nominated for top series honors under a 2007 Primetime Emmy rule that allowed digital contenders. Netflix’s quick kudos progress is remarkable considering how long it took the Primetime Emmys to recognize the previous revolution in TV media — cable, which wasn’t even eligible to compete until 1988. The academy’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge cable forced the industry to create the separate Cable Ace Awards in 1979. They were finally folded in 1998.

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