As the streaming wars have been consumed this spring by the launches of HBO Max and Quibi — with Peacock still to come — another new entrant, Apple TV Plus, recently found reason to celebrate on the awards front.
The Daytime Emmy nominations were finally announced last month by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences after a monthlong delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Apple TV Plus scored an impressive haul for a first-timer. Even though the service has been streaming for only six months, its four kids shows (“Ghostwriter,” “Helpsters,” “Snoopy in Space” and “Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10”) landed a total of 17 nods — placing it ahead of networks like HBO (with 14) in total daytime noms.
Stack that up against established streaming competitors, and Apple has quickly become a contender: Among other streamers in the kids categories, Netflix scored 29 noms from 17 shows, while Amazon picked up 20 noms across 10 shows.
Now comes the Primetime Emmy race, which is administered by NATAS’ L.A.-based counterparts at the Television Academy. Apple TV Plus is once again looking to make history by landing a major category nomination in its first year of existence and Emmy eligibility — something that even Netflix, Amazon and Hulu couldn’t do. Leading the contenders for Apple is drama “The Morning Show,” which was already nominated for three awards at the Golden Globes (for Jennifer Aniston and co-star Reese Witherspoon, as well as best drama), while Aniston picked up a SAG Award in January for best female actor in a drama.
Although offering a smaller library than most of its streaming competitors, Apple TV Plus has made high-end fare one of its selling points, and awards have clearly been an important component — the outlet has hired a robust awards strategy team, and has been active on the campaign front since the winter awards season. Other titles the service is bullish on include limited series “Defending Jacob,” starring Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery; comedies “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” (which just earned raves for its remotely produced quarantine episode) and “Little America”; and animated series “Central Park.”
HBO Max, meanwhile, just launched last week — so its focus is a bit more limited. Its big plays for now are the comedy “Love Life,” starring Anna Kendrick, and the underground ballroom competition series “Legendary.”
Because the WarnerMedia streamer has been focused on its launch, particularly in these pandemic times, there’s been less of an emphasis on awards just yet — which is why the target has been limited to those two new series. But HBO Max is also building an in-house awards team (especially since it shares resources with the Networks Formerly Known as Turner, which have long been in the game). Expect a more robust effort next year.
Ditto the folks at Disney Plus, which launched in November but hasn’t yet focused much energy on awards. The streamer has a staffer and a few consultants to handle the time-consuming job of submissions and keeping track of the Emmy process, but it doesn’t have much it plans to push this year beyond, of course, “The Mandalorian.” And sadly for Disney Plus, as we wrote earlier this year in a silly but fun story, Baby Yoda is not eligible to compete for anything — seeing how he’s, well, a puppet.
That brings us to Quibi, the short-form streamer that launched in April, and hadn’t strategized its Emmy plans until the very last minute. That has led some producers of Quibi shows to start pitching their own shows, and even to wonder whether they should put together their own submissions.
As it enters the Emmy race for the first time, Quibi faces a spate of negative press, as well as concerns about its longevity. But last week, Quibi finally revealed its Emmy strategy. And because of its deep pockets, the service could very well steamroll the competition in the short-form categories and pick up a healthy number of nominations when they’re announced next month.
Among Quibi’s top contenders: The comedy short “Dummy,” which stars — yet again — Kendrick, who has easily become the good luck charm for new streaming services this year. (She also toplines the Disney Plus movie “Noelle,” although that’s not being actively campaigned).
Of course, all of these new streaming services have a ways to go before they come close to Netflix, which went from 14 nominations in 2013 — the second year it was Emmy-eligible, and the first it landed nods — to a whopping 117 last year. But as these new entrants begin to further crowd out many more broadcast and cable nominations, the evolution of the Emmys into a new version of the Streamys continues, unabated.