In 2013, Netflix became the first streaming service to win a Primetime Emmy Award. That was just four years ago, but feels considerably longer in TV years—at the time, individual chapters of the show House of Cards were still commonly referred to as “webisodes,” and Netflix had a relatively paltry 30 million subscribers instead of the roughly 104 million it has today.
Today, the television landscape is completely different. Almost half of the shows nominated for best comedy or drama at the Emmys this year come from streaming services: Netflix’s Stranger Things, The Crown, House of Cards, Master of None, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Netflix isn’t quite the biggest player at this Sunday’s ceremony; HBO received 111 nominations, even without Game of Thrones, its flagship production, being eligible. But the streaming service almost doubled the number of nominations it received compared to last year (91 to 54). And with Netflix intent on releasing an even bigger slate of new shows in 2018, its influence will only increase.
For viewers, Netflix’s vast infusion of cash has contributed to a spate of exceptional television—both from the streaming service itself and from the traditional networks struggling to keep up. The trend to watch for this year is whether voters reward less conventional recent releases (FX’s Atlanta, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix’s Stranger Things, HBO’s Big Little Lies) or more traditional Emmys-friendly fare (Netflix’s The Crown, ABC’s Modern Family, Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Bette and Joan). That’s to say nothing of the shows and actors that didn’t get their due: HBO’s The Leftovers and Insecure, Amazon’s Fleabag, Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience, Oprah Winfrey’s performance in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.