It’s fair to say streaming has established itself as a prestigious medium, having charged ahead with Emmy wins over the past few years. Take the 'Outstanding Made for TV Movie' category, for example, which Netflix won three years in a row between 2017 and 2019 for the same franchise (Black Mirror). 

This year, however, sees a slight upset. Disney+ has taken the category title for the first time with animated action-adventure Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. The nominees for the 74th Emmy awards point to the continued democratization and fragmentation of the streaming industry and span several streaming providers. (Previously, since the move away from cable TV contenders in the mid-2010s, there have seemed to be only two proper contenders: Netflix and HBO). Yet first-time nominee The Roku Channel perhaps signals the real approaching coup d'état. Could the admittance of this AVOD provider suggest that established giants should be worried about advertising-supported platforms? 

Streaming success

The 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Made for TV Movie went to Disney+ for Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers - the first time the comparatively new streamer has won in this category. It’s a significant win for the service, as previously, this category seemed to belong to Netflix by default. (The original streamer took four out of the five previous years' awards.) The Disney+’ win means Netflix is no longer the only streaming service to have won in this category and suggests a significant shift in how we define the ‘TV Movie’. 

The category was first created in 1992, when the competition was exclusively between cable giants, such as CBS and NBC. This trend was followed by a rapid shift to premium network providers: HBO nearly exclusively won the category between 2004 and 2015. In 2015 streaming nominees began entering the picture. Within two years, they were winning out over HBO heavy-hitters - even in years like 2018 and 2019, when HBO accounted for three out of the five nominees. Now, it's cable nominees that are few and far between. In 2020, Netflix had four out of five nominees; in 2021, Netflix and Prime Video accounted for three out of five; in 2022, four out of five were again available on streaming services (Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, and The Roku Channel). 

Statista: Number of nominations and wins for Netflix original programs at the Primetime Emmy Awards from 2013 to 2022. The peak and decline in nominations post-2020 point to the steady increase in streaming competition.      

That two of 2022's streaming nominees - Paramount+ and HBO Max - were once traditional cable providers reveals a move towards viewing optionality. It also highlights that companies adapting and innovating now have robust streaming strategies, whether as part of their umbrella offering (e.g., Paramount, which owns CBS and accounted for 86 Emmy nominations this year) or as an option alongside their existing premium cable channel (the model used by HBO and HBO Max).  

The emergence of AVOD

Perhaps more telling, however, are the award’s other nominees. 2022 was the first year The Roku Channel - established in 2017 - received any nominations. "Zoey's Extraordinary Christmas" was nominated in the 'Made for TV Movie' and 'Choreography for Scripted Programming' categories. The platform also saw success with the comedy anthology series "Immoral Compass", with a nomination for actor Bill Burr (Variety). The Roku Channel provides free-to-view streaming supported by advertising. Its admission to the Emmys reveals the media industry is taking AVOD and FAST options seriously. Traditionally an afterthought, its place at the table shows that advertising-supported streaming is now considered a legitimate and prestigious content vehicle. Success at the Emmys could signal further viewer interest in these platforms, as providers become known for offering quality content alongside accessibility. It would make sense if, after Emmy success, advertisers are willing to pay more for space on The Roku Channel and other advertising-supported platforms. 

A sign of things to come?

The Emmys are cultural canaries that signaled the rise of both HBO and Netflix. That left-field streamers are taking the spots of existing heavy hitters highlights the ongoing fragmentation of the industry. While Disney+ and Netflix battle for dominance, both should watch out for the continued success of FAST and AVOD providers. The recognition of AVOD nominees at the 74th awards suggests this format is only beginning to take off. 

If you have an existing content catalog you want to monetize, now is the best time to get started with FAST. Partnering with a free-to-view platform like The Roku Channel, PlutoTV, or Tubi can increase your content ROI within weeks, and solutions like Papercup can make your content viewable worldwide with localized AI dubbing. See our guide to distributing your content with FAST or speak to our team to learn more

The Emmys air tonight on NBC, 5:00 PT / 8:00 ET.