Streaming Crashes Golden Globes With Amazon’s Historic Wins

As delivery platforms change, awards shows are forced to become “platform-agnostic”

For all the times they’ve been derided as being old and out of touch, Golden Globes voters are sometimes in the forefront of trends. And one of those instances came on Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave two of its top television awards – Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical and Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical – to “Transparent” and its star Jeffrey Tambor.

The emotional win for Jill Soloway’s series was the first for a web-based series at the Golden Globes and a first for Amazon as the retail site moves aggressively into original programming.

Its acceptance at the Globes mirrored the kind of head-scratching and decision-making that’s been going on at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, to a lesser degree, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as delivery platforms change dramatically and awards shows must decide what fits and what doesn’t.

The Emmys, though they have yet to nominate Amazon, beat the Globes to nominating and awarding web-based series when they gave Netflix’s “House of Cards” nine nominations (and three wins) for its first season in 2013.

“It’s no longer the television arts and sciences, but the telecommunications arts and sciences,” the TV Academy’s senior vice president of awards, John Leverence, told TheWrap at the time. “Usually, awards are very reactive. But now, it looks like for once in our life, we were a little bit ahead of the curve.”

The Emmys set out to be, in the words of president Bruce Rosenblum, “platform-agnostic.” Initially, that mostly helped Netflix; Amazon made a big push for its Garry Trudeau-created series “Alpha House” earlier this year, but was shut out of the nominations. “Transparent,” which only aired a single episode during the Emmy-qualifying period, wasn’t eligible for that award.

In a way, the timing has always helped the Golden Globes appear more forward-looking than the Emmys: While the latter show is held in August or September to honor programs that ran during the year that ended the previous May, the Globes come at the beginning of the year and can pick up on hot shows that debuted in the fall and weren’t eligible for Emmys.

The Motion Picture Academy is grappling with changing formats as well; for the most part, though, it is sticking with the definition of a movie as something that plays theatrically.

Still, the Academy now allows films that are released on video or streaming services day-and-date with their theatrical release to qualify for Oscars. And in the shorts categories, they’re also allowing films that have a video premiere to qualify if they win the top award at certain film festivals; until this year, the video debut would have disqualified the short regardless of whether they won any film-fest awards.

And it’s worth noting that Netflix has its hand in that pie, too: In addition to its Golden Globe win Sunday night for Kevin Spacey and “House of Cards,” it is the distributor of “Virunga,” one of the documentary features shortlisted for the Oscars (though the film had a qualifying theatrical run before its Netflix debut).

It’s no coincidence then perhaps that one of the Globes’ hottest afterparties, the Weinstein Company bash, has acquired Netflix as a co-sponsor. And on the signs advertising the soiree around the grounds of the Beverly Hilton, the word “Netflix” was bigger than the word “Weinstein.”

Harvey taking a backseat during awards season? Welcome to the future.

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