Game of Thrones may have taken the top drama Emmy last night, but it was streaming that won the day.
Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming show to win the Emmy for an outstanding comedy series and Netflix (NFLX) tied HBO for most awards, at 23 each. The 2018 Emmys also marked the first time in 17 years that HBO didn’t receive the most nominations. Netflix took the top spot with 112, edging out HBO’s 108.
Even behind the scenes, the threat of streaming services was front of mind. Last year’s Emmys had an audience of 11.4 million viewers, nearly setting a new low for the award ceremony’s ratings (2018 viewer numbers were not yet available at the time of publication). Networks see live events such as awards shows and sports games as one of their last areas of advantage over streaming competitors, and they rely on such events to pull in ad dollars and to promote their own content. Falling viewership of all the major awards shows could be a sign that the networks have to start looking for a new cash cow, and that will be hard to find.
It’s not just ad dollars on the line either. Per a new eight-year broadcast deal between the networks and the TV Academy, networks stand to lose money if they don’t get ratings up. To do that, some networks are pushing for more flexibility in a format that’s starting to show its age and lose viewer interest.