Here in Los Angeles, thanks to the fading of entertainment trade magazines like Variety, the “For Your Consideration” ads for series and stars in contention for Emmy nominations have bled out from industry publications to the streets.
And of all the networks taking this approach, none have been as active as Netflix, (s NFLX) especially when it comes to House of Cards — billboards and bus ads across Los Angeles have popped up to remind Emmy voters that back in February, it debuted a season’s worth of intense political drama all at once. (Certain lucky Angelenos can even get free Netflix if they put up yard signs.)
There’s less promotional push behind Netflix’s other horse in this race, the long-awaited return of Arrested Development, but that’s likely because Arrested Season 4 premiered only just a month ago, and the posters for that show are still ubiquitous around town.
This isn’t the first year that Netflix content has been eligible for Emmy submission — last year’s Lilyhammer also qualified, as it had at least six episodes that met a certain length requirement.
But Lilyhammer didn’t feature a cast and crew dripping with Oscar nominations and wins; it’s no surprise that this year, Netflix is betting that either Cards or Arrested will continue the breakdown between mainstream and digital content, and become the first digital series to compete against broadcast and cable shows for little gold statues.
Awards tracking site GoldDerby.com currently handicaps House of Cards winning an Emmy at 14:1 odds — by comparison, Homeland, last year’s winner, is at 12:5 odds. However, ten of GoldDerby’s 13 expert critics included House of Cards in their predictions for shows likely to get a nomination.
For comedy series, of the 13 critics polled, only six included Arrested Development on their lists. But its odds of winning, according to handicappers, are a little better than Cards — GoldDerby has it at 9:1.
A win may not be likely — Breaking Bad is a popular favorite, Mad Men and Game of Thrones had strong years, Homeland struggled critically but had huge buzz all season long. But even before the ballots were collected last Friday, those organizing this year’s awards tipped their hat to the fact that they’re taking House of Cards seriously.
On Thursday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said that Cards co-star Kate Mara (a potential competitor for Best Supporting Actress) would be co-presenting the official nominations when they’re announced on July 18th.
Lest you think that’s a gimme, she’s presenting the nominations with two-time Best Supporting Actor winner Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad); it’s the same job that was done last year by Scandal‘s Kerry Washington. It might be awkward if Netflix goes empty-handed this year, but they’ll be a part of the action right from the beginning.
This doesn’t mean that next year, we can expect something like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries facing off against The Big Bang Theory for Best Comedy. Cards and Arrested are about the furthest things possible from web-grown original content.
But if the Emmys do choose to honor either show with a nomination, it could mean a major change in the perception of digital distribution — and then hopefully, eventually, the perception of digital content in general.