HBO no longer stands alone. After consistently racking up more Emmy awards than any other network year after year, HBO found itself tied with Netflix for most wins for the 2018 Emmy Awards. And going into the ceremony, Netflix gained more nominations than HBO, with 112 for Netflix, 108 for HBO. Of course, Netflix is not the only rival to HBO’s dominance of television — Amazon and Hulu belong in the same class albeit as challengers, and traditional network television, while fading, is still alive, if not completely well. But the conversation about the future of television begins with HBO and Netflix. As HBO and Netflix shape the entertainment landscape, they reveal four crucial differences that help explain how they ascended to their elite levels:
- HBO is a media company. Netflix is a technology powerhouse.
- HBO changed how TV is made. Netflix changed how we view TV.
- HBO creates game changers. Netflix makes crowd pleasers.
- HBO is run by a captain of industry. Netflix is run by a digital celebrity.
For all the money that Netflix invests into content creation, it has never delivered anything like The Sopranos, Deadwood, or Game of Thrones — entertainment landmarks whose influence, like that of the Beatles, will be discussed many years from now. But perhaps Netflix doesn’t need to. The Emmy Awards continue to reward HBO for its blockbusters. But Netflix is now demonstrating that you can be a crowd pleaser and gain critical acclaim — not bad for a company that started producing content only six years ago. So far, there is one clear winner of the HBO/Netflix rivalry: the audience.