Internet shows its muscle by making Emmy history
This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey in a scene from the Netflix original series, "House of Cards," an adaptation of a British classic. The program was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding drama series on, Thursday July 18, 2013. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Emmy Awards are television's biggest celebration of itself, but this year's ceremony will face an intruder: "House of Cards," the first online series to nab a top nomination with its best drama series.
Netflix's triumph on Thursday, which includes nods for its revival of "Arrested Development," is putting a further squeeze on the broadcast networks that already have lost substantial Emmy ground to cable. New network offerings were almost completely shut out and, like last year, no network drama made the nominations cut.
Kevin Spacey, the nominated star of the political drama "House of Cards," reveled in its impressive nine bids and role as a groundbreaker.
It's "really, in many ways, kind of a new paradigm," he said. "It's just a great, great thing for all of us."
The major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, likely have a different viewpoint. Cable channels over the year have sharply eroded their share of the audience, and now the Internet is nibbling away and will only become more robust as viewers turn increasingly to computers and other devices to consume video.
A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, but until Thursday online shows popped up only in lower-profile categories.
"It's really groundbreaking," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "It's beyond our most bold expectations. We were thinking a single nomination would be a win... It's as much a win for Internet television as it is for the content creators."
Networks still field the most-watched series — such as top-rated series "NCIS" and the 20 million-plus viewers it delivers weekly to CBS — and enjoy the rich opportunities they represent.
This image released by AMC shows Bryan Cranston as Walter White, left, and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in a scene from "Breaking Bad." he program was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding drama series on, Thursday July 18, 2013. Paul was nominated for best supporting actor in a drama series and Cranston was nominated for best actor in a drama series. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. It will air Sept. 22 on CBS. (AP Photo/AMC, Frank Ockenfels )
"There's nothing more profitable than having a big broadcast television hit that can be exploited on multiple platforms," including syndication and online, said Garth Ancier, a former executive for both broadcast networks and cable.
But when the Emmys are presented this fall on CBS, it will surely be irritating to serve as a promotional vehicle for the competition. The ceremony rotates among the big four broadcasters who, with the exception of basically flat NBC, saw their number of Emmy bids decline this year.
Besides the showing by Netflix, the leading number of nominations went to a cable miniseries, FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum." HBO fielded the next top nominees: "Game of Thrones" with 16 nods and the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" earned 15 nominations.