Emmy Nominations Talking Points: HBO Back on Top, ‘Game of Thrones’ Rules

By Hazelton, John | Screen International, July 17, 2019 | Go to article overview

Emmy Nominations Talking Points: HBO Back on Top, ‘Game of Thrones’ Rules


Hazelton, John, Screen International


HBO dominates, Netflix wants a trophy, ‘Fleabag’ earns first nods.

Last year, Netflix became the first streaming service to lead the Emmy nominations field on 112 nods compared to the 108 for long-time Emmy champ HBO. This year, Netflix was tipped by some to beat HBO’s nominations record of 126 set in 2015 but thanks largely to Game Of Thrones, the premium cable network regained its crown, with an impressive 137 nods to Netflix’s 117.

The streamer could still unseat its Emmy rival when the awards are handed out in September – last year the two companies tied on 23 wins each – but the odds now appear to be in HBO’s favour, at least for one more year.

Game’s record tally of 32 nods, including ten for actors alone, beat a record set by broadcast drama NYPD Blue back in 1994 and puts the just-concluded blockbuster on course to beat its own single-year record of 12 wins, achieved in 2015 and 2016.

HBO was also boosted, though, by limited series Chernobyl, co-produced by HBO with Sky Atlantic, which grabbed 19 nominations after its late entry into the Emmy field, and comedy series Barry, earning 17 nominations for its second season. Netflix’s top ranking show was limited series When They See Us on 16 nominations.

Streamers’ gain, cable’s loss?

In spite of the once-in-a-primetime phenomenon of Game Of Thrones, Netflix still increased its nomination tally. And rival streamer Amazon made a huge gain, clocking up 47 nominations compared to last year’s 22. Hulu, on the other hand, was down from 27 to 20.

Among other cable network contenders, FX saw its total slide from 50 last year to 32 this time around, and Showtime had to be content with 18 nods compared to last year’s 21. Leading broadcast network NBC was down from 78 to 58.

Netflix wants a trophy

Netflix could regain some sparkle by taking one of the coveted best series Emmys – to date it has only won two TV movie statuettes, both for Black Mirror episodes – though it faces tough competition. In the drama series category, the streamer is in contention with first-time nominees Ozark and Bodyguard, but both will be longshots running against Game Of Thrones and its most likely challenger, Killing Eve. In the best comedy series category, Netflix’s Russian Doll will be up against Barry, HBO’s final-season favourite Veep, and Amazon’s Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Netflix’s best shot could be in the limited series group, where When They See Us could pose a challenge to Chernobyl and showbiz bio-series Fosse/Verdon.

Fresh faces and missing persons

Television Academy voters are infamous for favouring long-running shows with multiple awards already in their cabinets, a preference that often limits the appeal of the Emmy awards ceremony TV broadcast. This year, however, past winners like The Americans, Big Little Lies, The Crown, Stranger Things, and Westworld had either ended or fell outside the eligibility period, leaving room for five series – Ozark, Pose, Succession, Bodyguard, and Killing Eve – to earn their first best drama series nods, making the category a far more intriguing proposition. …

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