No “Game of Thrones,” no problem.
Winter didn’t come to HBO this year, at least when it came to Emmy nominations. The pay cable network actually managed to increase its tally over last year, landing 111 nods vs. 94 in 2016. The channel was helped by the sheer diversity of its contenders: Drama (“Westworld,” which did better than expected with 22 noms), comedy (“Veep” and “Silicon Valley”), limited-run (“Big Little Lies” and “The Night Of”), talk (“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”) and even kids (“Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas”).
In a year where pundits are congratulating the broadcast networks for finding their next great Emmy hope in NBC’s “This Is Us” (actually, it’s “Saturday Night Live” that saved their hide this year, tying “Westworld” with 22 nods), it’s HBO and Netflix that are ironically benefiting from their “broad” scope of contenders.
Netflix pulled off its best Emmy nomination cycle yet, scoring 91 nods – up from 54 last year, and second only to HBO. And like HBO, Netflix benefited from the sheer volume of its offerings: “Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Master of None,” “House of Cards,” “Louis C.K. 2017” and “Bill Nye Saves the World,” among others.
Still, the “SNL” and “This Is Us” showings helped give broadcast – well, NBC at least – a shot in the arm. The Peacock network was third among all outlets, with 64 nominations – up from 41 last year.
“This Is Us” became the first non-PBS broadcast series to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series since CBS’ “The Good Wife” in 2011. It’s also a contender to win broadcast’s first drama series Emmy since Fox’s “24” did it in 2006. “This Is Us” was nominated for outstanding drama, but also picked up key acting nominations for stars Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz, and Ron Cephas Jones.
“We’re incredibly honored to have been given such broad recognition by the Academy,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “From shows to performers to technicians, the scope is staggering. It’s been an amazing year for broadcast television, including a return to the prestigious drama series category with ‘This Is Us,’ not to mention a record-breaking number of nominations for ‘SNL,’ which is the gift that keeps on giving 42 years in. Who said being middle aged isn’t fantastic?!”
But don’t write those “broadcast is back” stories just yet. Just two other scripted broadcast series were nominated as outstanding series: ABC’s comedies “Black-ish” and “Modern Family.” Overall, broadcast saw declines for ABC (34, from 35), CBS (29, from 35), Fox (21, from 29) and PBS (which dropped the most – 11, down from 26 – without “Downton Abbey”). Broadcast ultimately tallied 161 nominations this year, down from 171 last year.
The overall balance of Emmy nomination power continued to creep toward the streaming services, as Hulu jumped on the scene in a big way this year, thanks to the power of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” As a result, the streaming service landed 18 nominations this year, up from just two last year.
Between that and Netflix’s big haul (Amazon remained steady at 16, the same as last year), the three major streamers boasted a combined 125 nominations, up from 72 last year.
As HBO and Netflix took in more of the Peak TV haul, that left less room for others – and traditionally dominant cable outlets saw their overall tallies dip as a result. FX was down a touch (55, from 56), while Showtime (15, from 22), AMC (13, from 24), Comedy Cental (5, from 17) and History (3, from 13) saw bigger dips.
On the flip side, networks with hot shows saw their fortunes rise. With “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in its arsenal, VH1 saw its tally go from 0 last year to eight. Fueled by its premiere scripted drama “Genius,” National Geographic jumped from nine nominations last year to 15. “Planet Earth II” gave BBC America its 10 nominations, up from four last year. TruTV received its first-ever nomination, for “Billy on the Street.”
Basic cable networks not returning with nominations this year include Cartoon Network, Hallmark Channel, Logo, MTV and TV Land. After scoring 202 nominations last year, basic cable dipped down to 171.
The good news for this year’s contenders? Almost anything is possible. None of last year’s biggest Emmy winners are back this cycle: “Game Of Thrones” (12 wins), “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (9 wins), “Grease: Live” (5 wins), and “Making a Murderer” (4 wins) are not eligible this year.