This article was written just before the actual Academy awards night. And the conclusion wouldn’t have been any different if it were to have been done after the awards where Netflix managed to win all of a mere two awards. Indeed, the day after the awards’ night, Netflix’s shares rose, somewhat explained by the article which focuses on the business arithmetic behind Netflix’s Oscar lobbying efforts, where winning the actual award carries little weight.
“For Netflix, however, the math is different. The equation has an extra variable or two and the decimal points tends to drift to the east. Oscar advertising for the streaming giant is still additive for its platform, and will likely continue to be as long as a Netflix nomination is a somewhat novel thing. This year, Netflix is up for 24 statues, more than any of its movie-making rivals. When a film like Roma is nominated for an Oscar and Netflix makes sure people know about it, the company wins curious subscribers, who, in turn, are more likely to queue up The Irishman, Marriage Story or the other five Netflix films on the ballot this year.
Other studios aren’t so lucky. A fan of Little Women, for example, probably isn’t any more inclined to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pain and Glory or any of the other Sony flicks in the running. As a consultant from central casting might say: there are no synergies.
The payoff for Hollywood incumbents is the box-office bump a movie enjoys after winning, and the higher value it eventually commands when its rights are sold to Netflix or some other streaming platform. Streaming, however, has dragged down the value of an Oscar triumph. Late-comers are less likely to scurry out and catch a Best Picture at the theater when they know it can be screened from their couch.
Oscar advertising isn’t a zero-sum game, but it’s close. There are only so many private screenings and local TV slots to go around, particularly in the tiny window between when the nominations drop and when the envelopes are opened. Netflix is forcing its rivals to spend more to stay in the spotlight, which leaves just a little bit less to splash around on other things like, say, producing a great film or landing an Oscar-winning director.”
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