This is exactly the sentiment that Hulu wants to see after its big win at the Emmys:
Ok I REALLY need to get Hulu so I can watch Handmaid’s Tale.
— Mark Buchanan (@therealmarkb) September 18, 2017
The morning after Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale won the Emmy for best drama—a first for a streaming show—it’s easy to find people having a very understandable reaction. They’ll have to give Hulu a shot.
This is the payoff for streaming companies that are spending billions of dollars on content, and it’s immediate. Hulu, which fell behind the original content efforts of streaming rivals Netflix and Amazon, now has its tentpole attraction. Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale had been a critical hit, but Amazon and Netflix shows had the same acclaim. Being crowned the best of the best at the Emmys though, that has its benefits.
Streaming media companies and legacy outlets can both see this, and it’s creating an arms race for top-tier shows that can attract subscribers. There’s a good reason why Game of Thrones has become shorthand for the ambitious efforts of Amazon and Apple to make TV.
Crap I’ve been wanting to get Hulu again just for The Handmaid’s Tale, but now I really need to.
— Vizzie (@VisionaryZero) September 18, 2017
It wasn’t always like this. In the legacy TV world, Emmy wins had upside, but not the immediate gratification of people paying money directly to the company. Big wins helped attract A-list talent and command premiums from advertisers. Emmys brought panache to a company and maybe even an uptick in ratings.
Before the internet, HBO was among the few TV companies that did see immediate gratification from the Emmys—and it showed. HBO’s subscriber model started with movies, but shifted to high-end original content when other movie channels emerged. In need of keeping subscribers happy and adding new ones, HBO become an Emmy-winning machine, helping turn the company into a massive business success along the way. That hasn’t yet changed, with HBO taking the most Emmys of any network in 2017 thanks to wins from Big Little Lies, The Night Of, and Veep.
HBO now faces competition in the direct-to-subscriber model, and it’s from companies that have deep pockets and global reach. HBO has had to adapt as well, launching its own internet-based subscription offering.
This is a particularly daunting challenge for traditional networks as more people cut the cord and turn to the internet for TV. Consumers, freed from the bundle where they paid for any number of channels and their shows, are now free to pick based on whatever is best and void the rest.
If 2017 is any indication, it’s a trend that could end up having a serious impact on the entertainment industry. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu combined won 32 Emmys compared to 26 for NBC, ABC, and CBS. That’s already led to Wired calling the streaming services “television’s new ‘big three.'”
Hulu declined to comment on whether it had seen a bump just yet, noting it doesn’t release subscription info.