Among the nominees for best television programming announced yesterday was one notable outlier. Netflix, the online video streaming service, received 14 Emmy nominations. The recognition in some ways legitimized web content and led many to speculate about what the success of such shows means for the future of television entertainment.
"House of Cards," a 13-episode political drama directed by David Fincher, received nine nominations, including nods for best drama, best actor (Kevin Spacey) and best actress (Robin Wright). Jason Bateman, of the newly-resurrected "Arrested Development," also received a nod for best actor in a comedy. It marks the first time shows not specifically produced for air on television received Emmy nominations in the major categories. The nods were made possible after a 2008 ruling determined that shows aired over the internet could be eligible for Emmys.
Netflix has a long way to go if it hopes to compete with the power players in the television entertainment space: HBO received 108 nominations overall this year. But aside form creating a quality show in "House of Cards," Netflix also flipped the traditional television model on its head when it released all 13 episodes of the first season at once. The shift away from episodic viewing might yet prove to be even more disruptive to the industry than the advent of quality web programming itself.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, called the recognition "a leveling moment." "As of today," he added, "the lines are forever blurred between TV and the Internet. It's about what's on the screen."