Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Emmy Win Validates Online Streaming as a Hollywood Equal

“Your ability to be famous is not impaired by working on the internet,” says one media analyst

Hulu had a banner night at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, spearheaded by “The Handmaid’s Tale” being the first show produced by a streaming service to take home the award for Outstanding Drama Series.

It’s a distinction that validates online streaming as an equal competitor to traditional TV, according to BTIG media and tech analyst Rich Greenfield.

“What’s critical, whether you live on broadcast TV, cable TV, paid TV or the internet, is you can win the same awards and accolades,” Greenfield told TheWrap. “Your ability to be famous is not impaired by working on the internet.”

While it’s an obvious high-water mark for Hulu, the success of “The Handmaid’s Tale” raises the profile of its streaming competitors as well. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon combined for 123 nominations this year — a healthy jump from the 72 noms the three services had last year. (That goes without adding HBO to the mix, which has adjusted to the new landscape as well as any network and lead the way with 111 nominations this year.) Spend five minutes driving around Los Angeles, and you’re inundated with billboards from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon trumpeting their Emmy footprint.

The nominations are critical, according to Greenfield, since they underline the prevalence of streaming in 2017. Beyond attracting new subscribers, this is vital towards reeling in talent. Stars and strong programming, rather than award show wins, is the ultimate recipe for driving streaming subscriptions.

“I don’t think it’s just awards. The nominations and awards help illustrate to talent that you can receive the same, if not greater, recognition on the new platforms as the old platforms,” said Greenfield. “I think [nominations] are important from that standpoint; I don’t think the award in and of itself is why someone is or subscribing or not subscribing to these services.”

Of course, the prestige of winning the Emmy’s top prize doesn’t hurt, either. Craig Erwich, Hulu’s head of original content, told TheWrap “Handmaid’s” can help attract new eyeballs to its other shows.

“We really do think about each of these shows as, hopefully, like — this might be an unfortunate term — a gateway drug to the rest of Hulu,” he said. “The real goal is that they come in to watch ‘Handmaid’s’ and then discover a lot of other shows.”

With “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” victory, Hulu — and its rivals — has another feather in its cap when looking to court Hollywood stars. The subscribers will flow from there, and streaming will continue its eclipse of traditional TV.