Emmys 2021: From Cable Era to Streamers Dominance

The streamers dominated Sunday’s show.

The Primetime Emmys changing of the guard from the cable era to the streaming era was most evident last night.

In 2017, Hulu became the first streaming service to claim one of the big three series Emmys, when The Handmaid’s Tale was named best drama.

Amazon carried forward with its best comedy wins for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag in 2018 and 2019, respectively. And on Sunday night, both Apple TV+, which launched less than two years ago, and Netflix, the most prominent streamer, joined the club as Apple’s Ted Lasso won best comedy and Netflix’s The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit won best drama and best limited-anthology series, respectively, unprecedented clean sweep of the big three series awards.


Michaela Coel
Netflix, with a stunning 44 victories between the Primetime and Creative Arts ceremonies, finished in first place for most Emmy wins of the year for the first time ever.
In 2018, it tied HBO, which has otherwise dominated the 21st century.

In every single performance, directing or writing category in which a Netflix show did not win, the winner was a fellow streamer — Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso and HBO Max’s Hacks split the comedy awards — or from HBO, which was buoyed by Mare of EasttownLast Week Tonight and I May Destroy You. Disney+ won best variety special (pre-recorded) with Hamilton.

The Big Four broadcast networks collectively won just one award, best variety sketch series for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

A decade ago, not a single streaming show had ever been nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Now, not only the broadcast networks that dominated the Emmys, but also the basic and premium cable networks that thrived at them.

There is now more TV content than ever before, and more quality TV content than ever before, but most people are not consuming much more TV than they used to.

Because the pandemic has forced us to stay at home, we now get a similar sense of what our social circles are watching and liking via social media.

Most people want to watch what everyone else in their social circle is talking about. Those are a handful of shows on the broadcast networks and basic cable. For TV Academy members, those tend to be edgier and higher-brow offerings that are available on small handful of platforms.

At a time when there are over 400 scripted original series on TV, only six shows — The CrownTed LassoHacksMare of EasttownLast Week Tonight and The Queen’s Gambit — won every major Primetime Emmy Award.