digital film


The rise of digital studios

Entertainment awards reflect a new type of media disruption

Streaming original content is enabling digital studios to increasingly compete with traditional television studios for viewership—and for entertainment awards. What can a closer look at the Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards tell us about these trends and how they impact the bigger story of media disruption?

A changing landscape for television production

According to Deloitte’s “Digital media trends survey,” US consumers value the ability to view content whenever and wherever they want—and without commercials.1 Over-the-top (OTT) media platforms like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have created their own digital studios that fulfill these requirements while also delivering another key advantage: high-quality, original content.

This has become a key differentiator for television production. Nearly half of all streaming service subscribers say they value the quality of original content offered by their providers,2 and digital studios are responding to these trends. In the previous five years, total digital studio television production has grown from 24 to 117 annual shows.3

Award show trends for digital and traditional studios

Shifting trends in entertainment awards

Digital studios have also emerged in the last five years as a major force in quality television production of original content. They’re receiving award nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). And they’re winning those awards at a much greater rate than their share of total television production would suggest.

Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory analyzed 922 award nominations and 166 award winners over the past five years for the three awards shows previously mentioned (including the 2018 results for the Golden Globes and SAGs). Our goal? To determine whether digital studios are achieving critical success with their significant production investments in streaming original OTT content for television. 

stage/red curtain

Big hits, small pool

Our analysis indicates that, over the past five years, digital studios have “outperformed” traditional studios by receiving a greater share of nominations than their share of total production. With rapidly increasing production investments and greater critical success, digital studios represent a significant and ever-growing threat to the incumbents.

The success of digital studios with respect to award nominations has been underpinned by five shows that have garnered huge critical success:

  • House of Cards
  • Transparent
  • Orange Is the New Black
  • Stranger Things
  • The Crown

Traditional studios, in contrast, have a much larger pool of successful shows driving their results. And their top-winning shows—Big Little Lies, Veep, and Breaking Bad—were still the most commonly awarded shows from any studio.

Three studios have consistently stood out as the most critically acclaimed over the past five years:

  • HBO, with 24 percent of total nominations and 27 percent of total wins
  • FX, with 12 percent of wins and nominations
  • Netflix, with 5 percent of nominations and 11 percent of wins 

Genre: A laughing matter for digital studios

Comedy and drama are the two key genres of television awards. Deloitte’s analysis of nominations and wins for these categories over the past five years indicates that comedy performs more strongly for digital studios’ original streaming content than drama does. The exception was in 2017, when digital studios’ wins in drama spiked to 44 percent while comedy wins dropped to 8 percent. As of the recent 2018 Golden Globe and SAG awards, results returned to earlier trends, with digital studios achieving a 50 percent win rate in comedy and a lower 23 percent win rate for drama.

Major digital studio deals over the past 18 months with high-profile drama production teams could reverse this trend over time. But that remains to be seen.

digital film reel

Who will grab the spotlight?

Digital studios continue to excel—and most commonly at the SAG Awards, with five-year nomination and win rates well ahead of the overall average across all award shows. At the other end of the spectrum, the Emmys generally haven’t seen the same percentages of nominations and wins for digital studios, and rates have historically fallen behind the overall average during the period we reviewed.

Will the Emmys tell us anything different about industry trends and media disruption? Check back in the fall of 2018 for our newest analysis on who’s grabbing the bigger share of the spotlight.

Get in touch

Dean Kingsley
US Advisory Principal | Media & Entertainment
Deloitte & Touche LLP
+1 213 553 1296
Joe Guintu
Senior Manager | Media & Entertainment
Deloitte & Touche LLP
+1 213 688 6965
Hardy Mowe
Senior Consultant | Media & Entertainment
Deloitte & Touche LLP
+1 213 553 1291


1 Kevin Westcott, Jeff Loucks, et al., “Digital media trends survey: A new world of choice for digital consumers,” Deloitte Insights, March 19, 2018, Deloitte Development LLC.

2 ibid

3 *Estimated count by FX Networks Research as of 1/2/2018; culled from Nielsen, Online Services, Futon Critic, Wikipedia, Epguides, et al. “Online Services” = Amazon Prime, Crackle, Facebook Watch, Hulu,, Netflix, Playstation, Seeso, Sundance Now, Vimeo, Yahoo, and YouTube Red. Data excludes library, daytime dramas, one-episode specials, non-English language/English-dubbed, children’s programs, and short-form content (< 15 mins). Includes recently produced imports.

4 Awards data:,,

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