Jeff Bezos probably didn’t envision this when he launched Amazon more than two decades ago.
It was Bezos, who started an online bookstore in 1994 and turned it into an internet behemoth that now competes in a variety of industries like TV production, who was showered with love by Hollywood’s top talent at the 68th Emmy Awards on Sunday evening in Los Angeles.
Amazon took home two early awards for its hit show Transparent, as Jeffrey Tambor won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Jill Soloway won for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. Both won the same award last year.
Accepting the award, Soloway said “I want to thank you my sweet Jeff Bezos…”
— Kerry Flynn 🐶 (@kerrymflynn) September 19, 2016
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) September 19, 2016
Never thought I'd hear the phrase "my sweet Jeff Bezos"
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) September 19, 2016
Tambor, meanwhile, provided one of the evening’s quotable moments when recalling a funny recent exchange with the Amazon boss.
Jeffrey Tambor, who won actor in a comedy series for TRANSPARENT, says Jeff Bezos took his hand last night and said, “Call me Jeff Bezos."
— Natalie Jarvey (@natjarv) September 19, 2016
“Call me Jeff Bezos” is one of the best jokes of the night. Deserved more laughs. #Emmys
— Daniel Holloway (@gdanielholloway) September 19, 2016
Now really hope Jeff Bezos's autobiography will begin "Call me Jeff Bezos." #Emmys
— Radhika Jones (@radhikajones) September 19, 2016
The love for Bezos was apparent to viewers.
Jeff Bezos getting a lot of shoutouts tonight, go Jeff Bezos
— Kate Dries (@TheSSKate) September 19, 2016
5 years ago who could have predicted the most named person at The Emmys would be "Jeff Bezos" #Emmys
— Umang Dua (@umangdua) September 19, 2016
Both Tambor and Soloway also gave Bezos praise while accepting their respective awards last year.
Amazon has racked up Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for the past few years as it continues to grow its video production arm, which creates original content for the Amazon Video service. The company provides access to its video content as part of a $99 annual Prime membership, which also includes 2-day shipping and other benefits.
In April, Amazon began offering a monthly $8.99 Prime subscription so members could access its video streaming service. The move was a direct swing at Netflix and its popular monthly subscription plan.
Amazon still trails Netflix in terms of streaming video market share, but it is gaining momentum. This year, Amazon was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, up from 12 last year; Netflix had 54 nominations, up 20 from last year, and good enough for third overall (HBO had 94 and FX had 58).
As of 7 p.m. PT on Sunday, Amazon and Netflix both had two Emmy Awards this year. In 2015, Amazon won five Emmy Awards; Netflix took home four. Update: On a geeky note, Mr. Robot star Rami Malek won for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series. You can read reviews of each Mr. Robot episode this season here. Update No. 2: Amazon ended up winning six awards on Sunday, while Netflix won nine.
Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky told reporters in July that the company would double its video content spend during the second half of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Olsavsky also said that Amazon will “nearly triple our offering to customers of new Amazon original TV shows and movies” compared to last year.
In addition to its own original production, Amazon is spending big for other content rights — for example, it reportedly paying $250 million to acquire the popular Top Gear show for its Prime audience. It’s getting in the film industry, too, teaming up with people like Woody Allen for feature films.
Award-winning shows include Transparent, which had 10 Emmy nominations and will return for its third season Sept. 23, and Mozart in the Jungle, which kicks off its third season Dec. 9. Several new original shows will debut this fall season.
“These shows are great for customers, and they feed the Prime flywheel – Prime members who watch Prime Video are more likely to convert from a free trial to a paid membership, and more likely to renew their annual subscriptions,” Bezos noted in this year’s letter to shareholders.
In the shareholders letter, Bezos also noted that Prime is one of three pillars of success at Amazon, in addition to its e-commerce marketplace business and cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services. Some say that Amazon Studios could ultimately become the company’s fourth pillar.