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The rise of digital studios

Trends in television award shows reflect changing landscape of home entertainment

With the rise of disruption in media—especially in the television industry—learn more about the growing awards and nominations that digital media companies are receiving compared to traditional networks.

Media disruption

The television industry is undergoing significant change, with digital distribution platforms joining traditional broadcast television and cable operators in providing entertainment to viewers. To determine sustained access to quality content, these digital platforms have created their own digital studios in recent years that produce original television content to capture audiences from traditional television production companies.

One measure of the achievements of these digital studios is the increasing recognition of the quality of their television production through wins in three major television award shows—the Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. Deloitte has analyzed1 the success rates over the past four years of television productions from digital studios in the two significant genres of comedy and drama.

This analysis shows that in both genres, the digital studios are gaining ground against traditional studios for both nominations and wins relative to their volume of television production. Recent nominations for the 2018 award season for the Golden Globes and SAG Awards have shown a continuation, and indeed further acceleration of this trend.

TV awards and nominations

There has been a significant increase in digital studio television production over the past four years; however, it remains a minority percentage of the total industry. In 2013, digital studios produced only seven percent of total television production; by the end of 2016 that grew to 20 percent of total television production2.

When considering the rise of the digital studios, it is important to consider the impact of a small number of highly successful shows. Of the 820 major award nominations analyzed for comedy and drama shows over the past four years, 142 nominations have gone to digital studios, dominated by three successful shows—House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent—which together accounted for over 50 percent of the digital studio nominations1.

The 2017 awards season also saw the arrival of two prominent new shows from digital studios—The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown—that together accounted for three-fourths of the wins for digital studios and demonstrated that the achievements of digital studios appears to be here for the long term.

Despite the smaller number of original content productions, the digital studios have been effective in gaining both nominations and awards. Deloitte’s analysis shows that in both genres, the digital studios are gaining ground against traditional studios. Download the report for more on nominations and wins relative to their volume of television production.

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The accelerating impact of digital studios

Original content from digital studios received nine percent of many relevant nominations within the comedy and drama genres during the 2014 awards season (for 2013 productions) and increased to 26 percent of those same nominations by the 2017 awards season (for 2016 productions)1.

The accelerating impact of digital studio productions on major television awards is indicative of the major investments made in original production by digital media companies over the past several years, and their ability to leverage high-quality data about consumer media consumption habits into high-quality, popular programming choices.

The big question is not whether content will remain king or queen—quality content will always find an audience. The real uncertainty is who will be the future dictator—the one to commission and control that premium content.

David Cutbill, US Risk and Financial Advisory leader, Media & Entertainment, Deloitte & Touche LLP

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1 Awards data

2 *Estimated Count by FX Networks Research as of 12/14/2016; culled from Nielsen, Online Services, Futon Critic, Wikipedia, Epguides, Data categorization information from FX survey for distribution channels: “Broadcast” includes PBS, “Basic Cable” includes DIRECTV. “Online Services” = Amazon Prime, Crackle, Hulu,, Netflix, Playstation, Seeso, Venmo, Yahoo, and YouTube Red. Data excludes library, daytime dramas, one-episode specials, non-English language, children’s programs, and short-form content (< 15 mins). Includes recently produced imports.

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