Netflix Emmy campaign: breakthrough in self-promotion

There’s no such thing as crass in Hollywood, so Netflix’s aggressive campaign to win an Emmy nomination barely raised an eyebrow. The company, originally known for renting DVDs by mail, has expanded into streaming video, producing original series that it distributes online. Yearning for the stamp of approval that comes with an Emmy, Netflix blanketed certain parts of Los Angeles with political-style yard signs, beseeching the 15,000 Emmy voters to support “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development.” To get permission to put up the signs, Netflix gave homeowners free subscriptions and Starbucks gift cards.

The strategy worked: On Thursday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced nominees, and both shows received nods. It’s the first time programs distributed via the Internet have been nominated for Emmys, which were previously limited to broadcast and cable networks. Some critics have hailed the nominations as a cultural turning point — the moment when streaming video arrived as a legitimate medium. Maybe. But millions of people have already been watching television on their computers for years through Hulu. If Thursday’s nominations aren’t quite a pivotal moment in entertainment, though, they do seem to mark a milestone in shameless self-promotion.