INCOMPAS Defends Netflix's Oscar-Worthiness

INCOMPAS, a D.C. advocacy group for competitive networks and some edge providers, including Netflix, has taken issue with director Steven Spielberg's comments that Netflix productions should not qualify for Oscars.

Spielberg said they should be treated as TV productions, so confined to Emmys.

More broadly, Spielberg is concerned about the migration of independent films to Amazon and Hulu and Netflix with studios focused on milking their hit franchises with yet another iteration. He says TV is better than it has ever been, but that it is not the same as a theatrical release and should not be treated as such.


“Netflix’s ‘Mudbound’ received three Oscar nominations, including one for Rachel Morrison, the first woman to be nominated for Best Cinematography," pointed out INCOMPAS President Chip Pickering in coming to the streaming service's defense. "And Martin Scorsese has just wrapped filming ‘The Irishman’ – his new passion project for Netflix. You’re telling me that before he’s even seen the film, Mr. Spielberg thinks it’s only deserving of an Emmy, not an Oscar? Critically-acclaimed art is still that regardless of whether it’s first viewed in a theater or in the comfort of one’s own home.”

Some SVOD services, traditional as well as a over-the-top, have garnered Oscar nods with brief, limited theatrical windows to qualify them for the awards, which Spielberg says doesn't make them a theatrical movie.

“Streaming services like Netflix have created an innovative space for how we consume the content we love," said Pickering. "It has opened the door to more new pieces of work that wouldn’t have been made in the past because it wouldn’t have warranted a big box office opening. It’s diversifying film and television, and it means more good entertainment, all available on demand. If that’s not Oscar-worthy, I don’t know what is.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.