For one night at least, Amazon reigns supreme over Netflix

Program creator Jill Soloway and actor Jeffrey Tambor along with the cast of “Transparent” pose backstage with the Golden Globe award for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical.
Program creator Jill Soloway and actor Jeffrey Tambor along with the cast of “Transparent” pose backstage with the Golden Globe award for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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At big Hollywood awards ceremonies, the same names tend to pop up again and again during acceptance speeches: agents, managers, studios, spouses, network presidents and, of course, God.

But at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, Jill Soloway kicked off her thanks with four names that had never been uttered on a televised awards show before: “I want to thank Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Joe Lewis, Roy Price….”

Soloway—who was referring to Amazon’s CEO, the Amazon Studios head of comedy, and the director of Amazon Studios, respectively—was accepting the company’s first Golden Globe, and first major award ever, for her series Transparent, which won best musical/comedy series. Amazon picked up a second trophy shortly afterwards when Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor won best actor in a musical/comedy, calling Amazon “my new best friend.”

The victory was especially sweet for Amazon because it triumphed over co-nominee Orange is the New Black, from its streaming competitor, Netflix. While House of Cards’ Kevin Spacey later won a Globe for best actor in a drama, giving Netflix one trophy out of seven nominations, Netflix still hasn’t broken through with a best comedy or drama series win at the Golden Globes or Emmys.

Now Amazon has beaten them to the punch. It’s not quite David beating Goliath, but for one night at least, Amazon—which still lags far behind Netflix in total streaming video usage—is the top streaming network in Hollywood.

The victory couldn’t come at a better time for Amazon, which is launching its fourth round of television pilots—13 new shows in all—on Jan. 15. Customers in the US, UK and Germany will be able to watch the pilots and vote on which should be picked up for a full season. Transparent could also be an especially lucrative win for the company if some of the millions of curious Golden Globes viewers decide to sign up for Amazon Prime, which is bundled with the company’s streaming video subscriptions. There are already an estimated 30-40 million Prime members in the US and 50 million worldwide.

As Roy Price explained to me last summer, “It could be great for us, and it gives the part of the audience that hasn’t tried the shows yet an idea that people are responding well to these shows.” Plus, the two Globes wins now catapult Transparent and Tambor squarely into this year’s Emmy race.

Transparent’s Globe wins weren’t all that surprising, since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association traditionally bestows several of its TV awards on promising freshman series, like the evening’s other winners, Showtime’s The Affair and Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez. (Pay no attention to the many red flags and rumors surrounding the HFPA!)

While Amazon is king of the Globes for now, Netflix could change that at new year’s awards, when it will challenge Transparent with a new season of Orange is the New Black and a pair of promising new comedies: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (co-created by Globes host Tina Fey) and Grace & Frankie (starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, who presented Tambor with his trophy after a very funny bit at the Globes podium).

But no matter what happens, Amazon will always be the one that got there first.