Winter is coming—for TV executives’ pocketbooks.
An in-depth new Variety report notes that the forthcoming Emmy Awards season may be the most expensive yet, as streaming services and networks vie for for TV’s biggest awards. Though the Emmys won’t be broadcast until September 22, and voting won’t be finished until late summer, the industry’s “for your consideration” (or FYC) period—in which shows lobby for attention through screenings, mailings, press interviews, and events—kicked off in Los Angeles this week.
In recent years, Netflix has been one of the most ostentatious attention-seekers in the industry, spending big on events on both coasts to promote such shows as Stranger Things and The Crown. In 2017, it rented a 24,000-foot event space in Beverly Hills, where it hosted Q&As and showed off props and costumes. Such installations are now part of the months-long campaign, with Amazon hosting a competing events-space last year.
Both video streaming services are expected to repeat the tactic this spring and summer, in an effort to woo the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences estimated 25,000 members.
Tech companies like Amazon and Netflix, which have deeper pockets than their competitors, have been rewarded for their Emmy efforts. Amazon earned 22 nominations last year, while Netflix pulled in 112, besting the 108 nods by long-time Emmy earner HBO, which has been an awards player since 1993, when it spent a then-record $1 million on its campaign.
Now, that figure seems quaint. As Variety notes, networks send DVD screeners of their shows to Academy voters, and those mailings alone can cost six figures. A single FYC screening, meanwhile, can run around $50,000. Variety interviewed a campaign consultant who said that one network considered spending more than a million dollars on a single awareness-raising effort.
For the networks, Emmy attention can allow a show to cut through the clutter: Variety says more than 150 shows were submitted for the outstanding drama show race, compared to 29 in 1992. Shows like Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel have benefited from their Emmy wins, and the massive awards-campaigns often double as advertising for the shows themselves. (In recent years, Netflix has also greatly increased its spending on its Academy Awards campaigns: Some estimate it dropped nearly $60 million on its efforts for Best Picture nominee Roma.)
But in recent years, the spending has grown so out of control that some industry veterans are discussing a cap, in order to help level the playing field. “They’ve got to figure out some kind of limitation on spending,” Showtime CEO David Nevins told Variety, adding: “It’s asymmetrical warfare.”