Do Golden Globe Awards Drive Subscription Growth For HBO And Netflix?

For the past few years, there’s been a lot of chest-puffing between Netflix and HBO, the perennial awards show nominations leaders, over who receives the most Golden Globe Awards nominations.

This year, the pay cable network and the streamer tied for the lead among TV nominees with 14 nods apiece entering Tuesday night’s 2023 awards program.

But do the Globes mean anything beyond a chance to thank your mom on television in front of a big (but not as big as it used to be) crowd? Do they actually drive signups for the services? Well, that’s harder to say.

“I certainly think that awards build buzz, but it’s also highly dependent on a number of factors. An Academy Award or an Emmy probably carries a greater cache than do the Golden Globes,” notes Dave Tice, a research consultant at Hub Entertainment Research.

HBO and Netflix Grow—And Sometimes Shrink—For Many Reasons

There’s not a lot of direct evidence that awards shows bolster or bust networks’ or streamers’ reputations. When they sign up for a subscription, people don’t click a box explaining why they decided to join. That can make it hard to say for sure if ebbs and flows in subscriptions are influenced by content on the channels, economic trends or something more nebulous, like buzz.

Plus, Netflix and HBO report numbers quarterly, meaning that January’s Golden Globes are lumped in with many other potential catalysts for expansion or shrinkage, including the Academy Awards, the of-the-moment social media buzz and even the weather, which can cause disasters that require people to drop coverage while they deal with financial problems.

The Prestige Factor Of The Golden Globes

Still, Netflix and HBO have battled fiercely over the most-nominated trophy for almost a decade, so they clearly believe it’s worth something. They aren’t above throwing shade at the other service’s wins. And they definitely like putting out press releases and notes to investors that tout their status as a Golden Globe favorite.

Yet even the most prestigious awards shows (and the Globes isn’t that) can’t change the fate of a TV show, so it’s doubtful they’re doing much to bump up subscriptions. Emmy darlings such as Fox’s Arrested Development and NBC’s 30 Rock struggled to find an audience even after major Emmy victories.

That’s borne out in Hub’s research. “We asked about the influence of awards in our study last year (“Evolution of Video Branding”). You can see it’s not a top-tier consideration but is grouped up in the second tier with budget, recommendations, writer/producer and [timeliness],” says Tice.

What makes the top tier of considerations? No. 1 are that oh-so-nebulous term “buzz” and reviews of programming. A close third is a show that’s family friendly.

Tice notes that to see a major impact in subscriptions, a Golden Globe moment would probably have to piggyback on something else to earn enough buzz. “Did the movie/series sweep a number of awards (e.g., Titanic) or was an unexpected winner (e.g., Parasite)? Or was there a notable or emotional speech that created social media resonance (e.g., Sheryl Lee Ralph from Abbott Elementary on Emmys last year)? Just winning probably isn’t enough to move the needle without something else to elevate that in someone’s awareness,” Tice says.