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Netflix’s 20-Pound Emmy Mailer Impresses, Confounds Academy Members

With more programmers than ever vying for Emmy voters’ love, Netflix is betting that size matters.

Last week, the streaming service mailed its fourth box of screeners to Television Academy members. Together, the packages include every episode from more than 26 Netflix original series and features eligible for the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards. They also represent a massive step up in the Emmys-campaign arms race.

A typical mailer from a network or studio consists of one box and contains one or two select episodes of each series. Though most shows have little chance of capturing Academy members’ attention, given the amount of competition in the Peak TV era, networks and studios will send episodes from most or all of their eligible shows — a largesse meant to make sure that no talent feels overlooked.

Those boxes cost roughly $1 million dollars to produce, package and ship to the Academy’s more than 19,000 members. Estimates from awards-season marketers pegged the cost of Netflix’s mail campaign between $2.5 million and $4 million.

Netflix declined a request for comment.

“Obviously they’re trying to make a statement, but it’s a little bit over the top,” said one studio executive and Academy member.

One reason for the mailing’s impressive size is the breadth of Netflix’s original programming lineup.  The service boasts more than 100 original series, specials and features.

By including every episode its series rather than a select one or two, Netflix dramatically increased the sheer bulk of its mailing, with one recipient posting on Facebook that the four boxes, when placed on a scale together, weighed more than 20 pounds.

It also ran up the bill in other ways. Aside from the normal costs associated with packaging and shipping — all for-your-consideration mailers sent to Emmy voters must be shipped through the Academy’s mailing house — any entrant sending screeners must pay the Academy a set fee based on the number of episodes included in a mailing. To send to 10 or more of the Academy’s 28 peer groups, entrants are charged $1750 per episode.

For all of its shows across all genres, NBC and Universal Television sent 31 episodes — the same number that Netflix sent for “Fuller House,” “F is for Family” and “BoJack Horseman” alone.

Several Academy members have posted photos of the boxes on Twitter, with reactions ranging from wonder to bafflement.

The first of Netflix’s boxes was received by voters two weeks ago, with the fourth arriving last week. Each box is devoted to one category — drama and limited series, documentary series and features, comedy and variety series and specials, and May premieres. A subsequent standalone mailing was sent for the feature film “Foreign Correspondents,” starring Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana.

But whatever excesses Netflix has gone to as it promotes its shows are an outgrowth of the intense competition to have developed in Emmy campaigning. One Academy member said that the Netflix boxes currently sit alongside more than 50 other for-your-consideration packages currently in that person’s living room.

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