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Netflix Breaks New Ground with First Major Emmy Win




house-of-cards-kevin-spaceyThe world of online video took two giant leaps forward last night when the Netflix original series House of Cards won the Best Director prize.  It’s another sign of the way the entire TV landscape is changing; which is good news for everyone outside of network TV.

Over the last few years, the big awards have been going to pay cable shows like Showtime’s Homeland and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and other cable shows like AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It seems like ABC’s Modern Family and NBC’s 30 Rock, are the only network shows that can topple the cart. But then, that’s probably because the cable networks tend to produce heavy dramas and few comedies.

Now, network shows have a new enemy – online only shows like House of Cards.  Not only did director David Fincher win a top prize, but star Kevin Spacey was nominated for Best Actor. (He lost to one of my favorites – Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom.)

Altogether, Netflix received 14 Emmy nominations for their original shows picking up more awards for outstanding casting and cinematography.

Netflix spent around $100 million to make House of Cards and I’m sure they were sweating the bills for the first half of the year. With their wins, it’s clearly been worth it. Not only do they have a hit on their hands, but validation from the Academy means more top talent will be interested in working online.

That’s really the point of this whole post – online video isn’t all about the amateurs anymore. Actors used to get laughed at for taking roles on a “webseries.” It was like starring in a film your friend made in the backyard with his dad’s Super 8 camera.

Now, we can see that Joss Whedon and Marshall Herskovitz and Felicia Day were creative thinkers who understood the coming shift. This is day one of the new online video revolution. I’d bet that thanks to the House of Cards’ win last night, there are producers and writers and agents all over Hollywood putting together online deals they would have passed on a month ago.

I think Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris summed it up best last night when he said:

“Tonight we celebrate the best of television. For the younger audience, that’s the thing you watch on your phones.”

It’s a new dawn. A new day and a new way to watch TV.