A quick look at the nominees proves we are smack in the midst of a TV Everywhere Golden Age. This is as transitional a time as when HBO first ramped up its original programming slate and began to dominate the awards, pushing its big broadcast network brethren to the sidelines. Only this time, the quality and quantity of top choices astound.
In part, HBO raised the bar long ago for all who wanted to find a way into the game by showing that quality was good for business. Not only that, but HBO GO’s early embrace of the multiplatform ecosystem was a realization that the streaming universe wasn’t a threat but an opportunity. HBO took the lead and its competitors jumped in too with their own streaming services, from CBS to Showtime.
Yes, HBO still is on a 16-year run of garnering the most Emmy nominations of any network: 94 in this year’s 68th Primetime Emmy competition. Still, cable networks like Showtime, FX and AMC, as well as streaming behemoth Netflix and to a lesser extent Amazon Prime, have chipped away at HBO’s dominance. Look at FX’s 56 nominations, up from 38 last year. And then of course, there’s Netflix’s 54 nominations, a huge increase over last year’s 30 noms.
More than ever, this year’s nominated series are available to us through an on-demand universe. Certainly, as far as the dramas and limited/miniseries categories go, what dominates is programming with serial storytelling that lends itself to a binge-crazy marketplace. These are categories where broadcast networks have been all but shut out for years, where series with self-contained episodes and arcs are generally the norm.
For example, FX’s terrific “The People v. O.J. Simpson” received 22 nominations, and the network’s “Fargo,” which took gold last year, grabbed 18 nominations; they’re both great examples of binge-worthy novel-style storytelling. That goes likewise for other nominated dramas, such as HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” with 23 nods, more than any other series. One could even argue that “Thrones,” which won best dramatic series last year, had as much to do with the success of HBO GO’s launch as the service having great technology.
But a number of other nominations underscore the fact that this is the year the Emmys finally went TV Everywhere. The mass media radar streaming service Crackle copped three nominations, most notably for Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and for the animated series “SuperMansion.” Louis C.K.’s subscription Web series “Horace and Pete,”which he paid for out of his own pocket, got some Emmy love, too. And it’s important to note that on the strength of the insanely—and deservedly—popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments, the James Corden-hosted “The Late Late Show” gained itself a nomination in the talk/variety category.
When it comes to comedies, this is also a watershed year for what the Los Angeles Times, in a July piece published when the Emmy nomination were announced, tabbed the new “TV world order.” Two in the category come from HBO: “Silicon Valley” and “Veep.” Only two nominated comedies are from a broadcast network, namely, ABC: “Modern Family” and “black-ish.” Out of seven nominees in the comedy series category, two are from Netlix—“Master of None” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”—while “Transparent” comes courtesy of Amazon.
Given this year’s slate of nominations, it seems fitting that when the awards are handed out on ABC on Sept. 18, the show will be airing from the Microsoft Theater. It makes you wonder: How many of us will be watching on our Xbox?