Video streaming service Netflix made history Sunday night when it became the first company of its kind to score an Emmy in a major category at the annual TV awards show.
David Fincher won the best director prize for his work on Netflix’s political drama House of Cards, beating off competition from Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire), Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad), Jeremy Webb (Downton Abbey), and Lesli Linka Glatter (Homeland).
The Web-only show had received nine nominations in total, picking up two further Creative Arts Emmy wins at an event last week prior to the main ceremony Sunday night.
While Netflix will be disappointed to have walked away with only one high profile award on the night – House of Cards actors Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, for example, both missed out in their respective categories – the best director prize is a big deal and further cements the reputation of a company making its presence increasingly felt in the entertainment business.
The fact that House of Cards was Netflix’s first attempt at original programming makes Sunday night’s win all the more impressive. The California-based company had taken a risk with its entry into original programming, committing around $100 million for two seasons of the show, but positive reviews, nine Emmy nominations, and three awards indicate it was a wise investment.
Also, Netflix dared to be different by rolling out all 13 episodes of its brand new show at once, a move designed to please so-called ‘binge’ viewers who enjoy more control over precisely when they watch their favorite shows. The on-demand approach for a new show has proved so successful for Netflix that some major pay-TV operators are now following suit.
Despite the awards and praise, however, it’s not clear precisely how popular Netflix shows like House of Cards are with audiences as the company doesn’t release viewing figures. But given that it has some 37 million subscribers around the world, including more than 28 million in the US, we have to assume it’s doing something right.
Industry watchers will be interested to see if and how Netflix builds on the success of its original programming strategy, which also includes shows such as Arrested Development and Hemlock Grove.
In July, the Internet TV service said it hoped to appeal to a wider audience and further expand its user base with brand new shows to include feature documentaries and stand-up comedy specials.