Emmys, online shows may take big leap Thursday
This undated publicity photo released by Netflix shows Will Arnett, left, and Jason Bateman in a scene from "Arrested Development." If Netflix's "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" become the first online shows to reap Emmy nominations Thursday, July 18, it will be a watershed moment for programs that don't need television sets to make a splash. (AP Photo/Netflix, Michael Yarish)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — If Netflix's "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" on Thursday become the first online contenders to nab top Emmy nominations, it will be a breakthrough moment for shows making a splash without the aid of a TV set.
If not, it's just a matter of time before the inevitable happens.
The video universe that once meant simply broadcast television, then added cable and satellite, has splintered again to encompass websites including YouTube and streaming services including Netflix and Amazon.
The expansion was recognized in 2008 by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a rules change that added the Internet as an eligible Emmy platform. As with broadcast networks and other video distributors, programs must reach more than half of the U.S. audience to make the cut.
When the Emmy nods are announced early Thursday, a fair number of pundits say clever political drama "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development," the offbeat sitcom resurrected by Netflix after it was dumped by Fox, will be in the awards hunt.
The series are tagged for possible top drama and comedy bids, with "House of Cards" stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and "Arrested Development" cast members including Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter seen as contenders for acting nominations.
There have been Internet nominees before, such as last year's "Web Therapy" and "30 Rock: The Webisodes" in a short-format category, but not in the premier fields of acting and best series.
Online shows competing with Emmy champs "Breaking Bad" and "Modern Family" will be the 21st- century version of the watershed 1990s showings by HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show, "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" in those high-gloss categories.
As for this year's potential game-change, "It certainly is a marker of the new era. ... It will send shock waves through the industry," said Tim Brooks, a former network executive and TV historian who co-wrote "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows."
The Emmys rarely provide a ratings boost akin to the box-office advantage that can be conferred by Oscar or Tony honors, but Brooks said they are meaningful to industry insiders.
This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey as U.S. Congressman Frank Underwood in a scene from the Netflix original series, "House of Cards." If Netflix's "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" become the first online shows to reap Emmy nominations Thursday, July 18, it will be a watershed moment for programs that don't need television sets to make a splash. (AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon)
"It makes it acceptable for A-list creatives to work for you. They like awards and the acclaim of their fellows," he said. Good programming thus begets more good programming and, for services like Netflix, potentially more revenue-producing subscribers.