Emmys Shocker: Netflix Crashes Noms with 'House of Cards' Coup

Joal Ryan
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in "House of Cards" (Netflix)
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in "House of Cards" (Netflix)

Well, now we know the TV Academy binges on Netflix, too.

The Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series that was notched Thursday by the Netflix-distributed "House of Cards" not only made history, it made history really, really, really fast.

"House of Cards," the dark look into the dark life of a dog-euthanizing Southern Congressman played by Kevin Spacey, scored its key nod for online streaming just five-and-a-half months after Netflix got in the TV-making game; the subscription service released the first season of its first major series on Feb. 1.

In Variety, Spacey called the nominations — the series received nine in all, including ones for its leading man, actress Robin Wright, and director David Fincher, who produced and helmed the first episodes — "an incredible acknowledgement of the work we've done."

[ Photos: Snubs and surprises from the 2013 Emmy nominations ]

Streaming, which was also represented with three nominations, including one for Jason Bateman, for the Netflix-revived "Arrested Development," makes its stamp on the Emmys, and in turn on TV's gatekeepers, much faster than nearly every other alternative format.

It took pay cable, and specifically, HBO, more than a decade in the production trenches before getting a seat at the Emmys with "The Sopranos."

Producers of syndicated TV waited even longer before "Star Trek: The Next Generation" represented for its niche with a Drama Series nod in 1994.

"Mad Men" and "Damages" were hardly the first basic cable dramas when they became the first of their kind to earn Drama Series nominations back in 2008.

And it took satellite TV a couple years to break in even after DirecTV picked up an already-running, critical favorite in "Friday Night Lights." (The football series' noteworthy 2011 Drama Series nomination was credited to DirecTV and NBC, which had teamed with the satellite company to keep the low-rated show alive.)

[ Related: The full list of Emmy nominees ]

The speed and breadth of "House of Cards'" achievement is tempered only by its odds, and its unknowns.

Emmy-wise, the awards-season watchers at GoldDerby.com were giving "Homeland" and "Downton Abbey" the best early odds of taking the Drama Series statuette, with "House of Cards" rating nary a mention.

Viewer-wise, it remains unclear whether streaming shows are being streamed enough to make the format the future of TV. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that old episodes of "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and other (old) shows were generating more viewers (at least during the one week that was monitored in April) than the (relatively) new "House of Cards."

Other reports, however, have calculated that Netflix has picked up enough new subscribers since the release of "House of Cards" to cover the whopping $100 million it sunk into producing the show's first and upcoming second seasons.

For now, Hollywood is backing streaming with its pocketbook. Amazon rolled out a comedy pilot season this past spring; Hulu has made shows, though not yet a splash, including the political comedy "Battleground; and, Netflix is already back in the buzz game with the just-released prison comedy-drama "Orange Is the New Black," from the creator of "Weeds."

No, there's no shortage of streaming to binge on. Especially this year come Emmy voting time.