Yesterday's Emmy Awards: Bloated, bland, and thoroughly unfunny.
But also probably better than they've been for a few years.
A successful Emmy Awards needs to balance two things, each with opposing interests. First, it is an awards show celebrating an industry. It needs to talk to the industry - this means you will get dull speeches, self-indulgent speeches, and speeches that are little more than naming a lot of behind the scenes people that have little recognition outside of the room. But also, the awards are televised, which means they need to be entertaining to people outside of the room. Producers need to balance the two and give audiences enough entertainment to get past those speeches that make for poor TV. Did last nights Emmys succeed at that? Heavens no.
Cedric The Entertainer was kinda terrible. I appreciate he has an audience in the US, but watching it here from Australia, I was left scratching my head at the countless hacky bits - the two most cringy being a horrendously outdated joke about deploying the fly that landed on Mike Pence's head during the 2020 Vice Presidential debate. And that terrible segment with the three women who played the role of being his wife on three sitcoms each fighting to be declared his favourite wife. Those are cheap, lousy throwaway sketch ideas on a late night comedy show - the Emmys deserve better.
But the big issue I have with the Emmys is that they don't reflect where the TV experience is at in 2021. TV now is dominated by streaming, but that means that the Emmy Awards need to reflect what people see on streaming: made for streaming movies and international series. TV and movies are always difficult to categorize for award shows. It's how you have James Burrows nominated for directing a studio-based multi-cam comedy (B Positive) up against the big budget excess of HBO Max's single-camera light drama The Flight Attendant, but it makes zero sense to have an Emmy Awards broadcast on TV that is so US-centric and format rigid when viewers are getting an entirely different experience nowadays. It is irrelevant to audiences whether the nominated shows reflect the membership of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
TLDR; Why is Money Heist not listed in the nominations ahead alongside Bridgerton, The Crown, The Boys, and Lovecraft Country?
Here's some deeper reading on the Emmys:
- Ratings this year were up 16%. But don't get too excited - that's 16% up from a record low. 7.4 million people watched this year. 6.37 million last year. Still - up is up. Read: Variety
- The Emmys presented diversity, but only awarded white nominees. Read: LA Times
- Deadline has a good wrap of the highlights. Read: Deadline
- Why did Amazon Prime Video's The Underground Railroad fail to generate any interest at the Emmys? Read: Indiewire
- The Handmaid's Tale set a record for the most Emmy losses in a single season. Many shows would love to fail that bad. Read: Variety
- Yes, the Emmys were available to stream in the US. But Paramount+ failed to let people know it was only available on its most expensive price tier. Read: /Film
- Gillian Anderson was asked if she spoke with (the long dead) Margaret Thatcher ahead of her Emmy-winning performance as the Iron Lady in The Crown. Read: Uproxx
- Conan O'Brien generated more attention during the Emmys yesterday than his TV shows have in years. Read: LA Times
Two things I rather liked about the Emmys this year:
- It was produced out of a large function tent rather than an auditorium. While I don't think that a tent is key, the smaller space clearly translated to the audience having more fun. It was less austere and encouraged tomfoolery from attendees like Conan O'Brien.
- The In Memorium segment was really smartly produced with a great combination of art that spoke to why the deceased were best remembered, along with a fantastic performance of River by Leon Bridges and Jon Batiste.
Do you want to watch a clip of a streaker running through the background of the US Today Show?
Yeah, you do.
- Virgin River has been renewed for a 4th and 5th season at Netflix. Read: TV Line
- Netflix cancelled series Hit & Run after a single season. Read: Deadline
- Can the pro-gun control, pro-vaccination Piers Morgan win over Fox News viewers? Read: Vanity Fair
- Channel 4 in the UK has commissioned a 2-part doco charting the fall of Ron Jeremy. Read: C21
- Hearst Television in the US is pooling all of its local TV services into the one app - Very Local. It will also include some video content from its magazine interests and other national shows. Read: Variety
- Aussie broadcast rights for the English Premier League are available soon with current holder Optus expected to be fighting off interest from Stan Sport, Paramount+, and Amazon Prime Video. Read: SMH
- The Guardian asks: Should movie theatres ban popcorn? The idea being that enjoyment and fun have no place in a cinema. Read: The Guardian
- Expect details soon on plans for Aussie pay TV provider Foxtel's upcoming news service. I'm dubious if the rumored $10 price for a mix of international news services will drive that much excitement in the market, but lets see what they actually have planned (I'm very much the audience for this - but $10 seems a bit much [if true]). Read: SMH
- Thanks to a partnership with Metrological, Fetch TV will soon offer apps from Acorn TV, iwonder, Vevo, Vimeo, Plex, Kidoodle, The Weather Network, and a rebuilt hayu app. Read: Mediaweek
What are the most-used streaming services in Australia?
Technology analysis first Telsyte has released its Australian Subscription Entertainment Study 2021 report. The key takeaways:
- Australians are subscribing more. In a pandemic boom, there were 42 million subscriptions reported at the end of June 2021. This is up from 37 million in June 2020.
- Amazon Prime Video has proven a dark horse. The little-discussed streamer is number 2 in the local market - undoubtedly thanks to Amazon Prime's free shipping.
- Stan has dropped back to fourth position locally.
Free linear channels coming to Chromecast
One of the most interesting trends in streaming TV is the rise of free linear FAST services. These are Free Advertising Supported Television channels running on services like Pluto TV. They provide a traditional TV-like experience with a vast amount of low-cost content across hundreds of free channels.
Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, is the best known of these services, offering 400+ channels of movies, sports, music, classic TV, and innovative TV services like Loupe with 24/7 streaming wallpaper. With 400+ channels, it is never hard to find something interesting to watch - even if you do find yourself watching an episode of Baywatch. It's good lean-back TV for when you're not really actively watching TV.
But other companies have joined the mix. If you buy a Samsung TV, you can access Samsung's FAST service Plus TV. LG have a similar service, and then there's the very successful Roku Channel and Plex TV.
Now Google smartly wants in.
Owners of the new Chromecast with Google TV will soon see the launch (if Protocol's report is to be believed) of a set of FAST channels on the platform.
Google has held talks with companies distributing so-called FAST (free, ad-supported streaming television) channels, according to multiple industry insiders. These channels have the look and feel of traditional linear TV networks, complete with ad breaks and on-screen graphics. Free streaming channels could launch on Google TV as early as this fall, but the company may also wait to announce the initiative in conjunction with its smart TV partners in early 2022.
The biggest and most successful FAST services have been mostly available at a decent size and scale in the US. If Google enter this market and were truly dedicated in its effort, it would take the service global. There's a lot of viewers looking for a service like this - especially older viewers who are more comfortable with linear delivery. FAST is waiting for a global player to really take ownership. Google needs to get there before Amazon pivots to embrace it too.
If you want to see the first footage from Sex and The City sequel And Just Like That, you can find it in this promo for HBO Max.
Tom Hanks stars in the movie Finch on Apple TV+ Nov 5.
Luna Park debuts on Netflix Sept 30.
Bangkok Breaking debuts on Netflix Sept 23.
On My Block returns for a 4th and final season to Netflix on Oct 4.
Halloween Kills debuts on Peacock and in cinemas from Oct 15.
Marvel's Hit Monkey debuts on Hulu Nov 17.
What's next? Tomorrow.