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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

Final Predictions (Updated September 5): The original "Planet Earth" won four Emmys, but a lot has changed in the past 10 years.

Planet Earth 2 II

BBC America

Last Year’s Winner: “Making a Murderer”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: “American Masters” has been nominated 10 years in a row and won five of those times.
Fun Fact: Outside of “American Masters,” only one other program has been nominated more than once: “American Experience.”

It’s been 10 years since the TV Academy honored “Planet Earth” with its top nonfiction honor (plus three more awards), but we doubt they’ve cooled on the gorgeous, addictive BBC series. The environment and everything within it have never been more pertinent to the national discussion, and “Planet Earth II” paints a beautiful portrait with insightful details. So we’re expecting the sequel to do well on awards night.

But it’s not the only contender. “American Masters” is the most dominant series in the history of this category. It has 17 nominations, 10 wins overall, and won recently (in 2014). No one has forgotten about the PBS mainstay. But Netflix has two offerings that could both spell trouble for the competition.

Netflix won last year with “Making a Murderer,” and “The Keepers” has a similar critical backing. Anyone who’s seen it can’t stop talking about it. If that kind of buzz builds in the Academy, “The Keepers” could make it two years in a row for the streaming giant; that is, unless “Chef’s Table” is their preferred dish. Nominated two years in a row, the lavish food documentary is as revealing about its chefs as it is about the food they cook.

Meanwhile, ESPN earned a big nomination for its long-running, well-respected sports documentary series. If there are enough ex-athletes in the Academy, an upset akin to the 2017 Super Bowl could be in store.

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series, which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. “30 for 30”
  2. “American Masters”
  3. “Chef’s Table”
  4. “The Keepers”
  5. “Planet Earth II”

Will Win: “Planet Earth II”
Could Win: “The Keepers”
Should Win: “Planet Earth II”

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