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Networks, cable beware: We have seen the future, and it is Netflix

Anyone who has recently been in a college dorm room or the home of a 20-something may have noticed there is something missing: a television. More and more young people are accessing TV content on their computers, iPads or cell phones.

Somebody is going to profit from this and, right now, Netflix seems well positioned be the chosen one.

Having entered the high stakes business of creating original entertainment programs, Netflix has been rewarded with 14 Emmy nominations this year. The reborn "Arrested Development" got three nods in the comedy category. Nine nominations went to the darkly cynical but wonderfully acted political series, "House of Cards." Lead actor Kevin Spacey has been nominated for the outstanding lead dramatic actor honors, his costar Robin Wright is up for outstanding actress in a drama and the show itself is contending for best drama series.

There are skeptics who say the Emmys are no predictor of business success. Wall Street is holding back from investing in Netflix, in part because Netflix will not reveal just how big -- or tiny -- the audience is for their original shows. The broadcast networks look at this upstart rival in the entertainment game and remind the world that they still have plenty of Emmy nominations, plus many of Nielsen's top rated shows. The cable companies feel just fine in their position with a big share of the most honored series coming through their pipeline, especially from HBO.

But in the latest TIME magazine, Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, Inc., a Silicon Valley tech industry analysis firm, says Netflix is proving itself to be the new HBO.

"Regardless of whether House of Cards or Arrested Development actually win any Emmys, Netflix has already become a winner at this year's show by nature of this giant endorsement of its labors and vindication that its bet on creating original programming panned out," Mr. Bajarin says. "This nod from Hollywood allows Netflix to play with the big guns in the cable world and, more importantly, cements its position as the industry leader in providing OTA (over the air) services that will eventually change the way most of us receive our TV and video content in the future."

Just see how the 20-somethings are getting their TV and it is obvious change is well on the way.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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