The Walt Disney Company (DIS) has emerged as a preliminary winner at the Emmys. 

With 146 nominations, the Burbank, California-based company ranked first among platforms vying for the popular TV awards, according to an official tally released by the TV Academy. That figure is the sum total of nominations for networks and streaming services, such as ABC and Disney Plus, that operate within the company's business umbrella. Warner Media, which is owned by AT&T Inc. (T), ranked second with 138 nominations, and streaming behemoth Netflix Inc. (NFLX) rounded out the top three with 129 nominations.

Key Takeaways

  • The Walt Disney Company has received the most nominations by platform at the Emmys.
  • Disney Plus, the company's streaming service, ranked third in the total number of nominations received.
  • In a year marked by shutdowns and restricted entertainment options, streaming has become a critical part of Disney's business model.

Even as it topped the platform category, Disney lagged competitors in the number of nominations received for individual networks and streaming services. The company's streaming service, Disney Plus, ranked third with 71 nominations, a jump from the 19 it received in 2020. HBO/HBO Max and Netflix topped this category with 130 and 129 nominations, respectively.

While a direct correlation between Emmy nominations and revenues is yet to be established, a nomination (or an award) at the Emmys is a seal of quality. It also helps generate buzz and gin up subscriber growth. For example, the Emmy-nominated "House of Cards" brought in millions of new subscribers at Netflix and helped retain existing ones.

The 73rd annual Emmy Awards are scheduled to be held on Sept. 19.

A Shift in Disney’s Business 

The Emmys could turn out to be especially important to Disney this year. In a year of pandemic confinement that slashed revenues in other parts of its business, the entertainment conglomerate's pivot to streaming services has become a barometer to its future profits for investors.

Disney Plus is its most closely watched division. Launched with a marketing blitz in November 2019, the streaming service was a late entrant to the industry. But it caught up fast, racking up subscribers at breakneck speed and reaching a figure of approximately 100 million within 16 months of its launch.

When Disney reported a slowdown in its streaming platform's user growth numbers this past June, its stock fell by 4%. In its latest earnings call, the company reported revenues of $4 billion and losses of $300 million, down from $800 million a year ago, for its streaming unit.

Despite the losses, Disney is expending considerable effort and resources into fashioning its streaming foray. It plans to spend billions of dollars on content in the coming years to bring in more subscribers. Its Premier Access service also enables subscribers to stream the studio's star-studded movies the same day they are released in theaters.

The strategy seems to be working. "Black Widow," a recent Disney release that had the biggest opening-weekend box office collections for 2021, brought in $60 million from Premier Access subscribers during the same time period.