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Golden Globes: How Netflix’s Nomination Domination Is a Sign of the Times (Column)

If you’re searching for a quick snapshot of the TV landscape circa 2020, take a look at this year’s Golden Globes nominations. Netflix dominated both the film and TV categories, landing 17 noms in both — 34 altogether.

The streamer is a dominant force, thanks to its sheer volume of content. Only a fraction of its shows landed nominations, but a “fraction” in Netflix terms is still a lot of original series. Shows landing Globes noms for the streamer include “The Crown” and “Unbelievable,” which received four each. “The Kominsky Method” garnered three, while “The Politician” scored two. Three more programs received one nom each.

Not bad for a company that just got into the original series business six years ago. Back in 2013, Netflix was still a curiosity and more of an industry punchline than a threat to linear TV’s awards hegemony. Audiences watching TV shows on the Internet? A novelty back then, fueled at first by “House of Cards,” an expensive show that could have aired anywhere, but was snapped up by the company that mailed you DVDs.

In its inaugural season, “House of Cards” earned four Globes noms, the most of any series — with star Robin Wright winning for TV drama actress. The following year, both “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” landed three nods each for Netflix, while Amazon Prime Video got into the game, scoring two noms for “Transparent” (and winning one, for Jeffrey Tambor as TV musical or comedy actor).

From there, the growth was rapid, and as the streamers bulked up with expensive original programming, they also soon dominated the major TV awards. In 2018, Netflix bested HBO for the first time in Emmy nominations. But the race is still tight: This year, HBO reclaimed its crown, scoring 137 Emmy noms to Netflix’s 117. When the dust settled in September, HBO took home 34 awards, with Net-flix in second with 27 wins.

Now the new awards cycle has started, and so far Netflix has led both the Globes and SAG nominations tallies over HBO. And here’s what’s equally as huge: The streamers overall are dominating the kudo races. At the Golden Globes, the combination of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and newcomer Apple TV Plus received 30 nominations. Premium cable received 18 noms, while basic cable got seven — and broadcast received none.

The results were similar with SAG Awards nominations, as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Apple TV Plus combined for 27 nominations, premium cable received 11, basic cable earned six, and broadcast TV landed just one (for “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown.)

It’s the Globes shutout that is particularly concerning for the networks, given its prominent airing on NBC. Following on the Emmy Awards becoming a promo for streaming TV and cable on broadcast, the Globes and SAG Awards appear to be even less interested in including shows from the traditional networks.

Craig Erwich, Hulu’s senior vice president of originals, warns not to read too much into the shifting fortunes. “My take is there are limited nominations and a tremendous amount of good work being done,” he says. “I think, quite frankly, it depends more on what’s in the zeitgeist.”

Well, streaming was definitely in the zeitgeist this year — and that isn’t going to change any time soon, as more platforms launch in 2020.

In the ratings-free streaming age, it’s a bit tougher to tell what’s actually in the zeitgeist. Social-media buzz is one indicator, but who’s to say how many viewers actually watched Netflix’s “Unbelievable” or Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” — both of which earned multiple noms this awards season.

Expect to see more hand-wringing in future years over whether awards shows are still bleeding viewers by celebrating shows that aren’t attracting broad audiences — or if streamers dominating nominations is simply a sign of the times.

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