By James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly
Netflix just toppled HBO from its Emmy nomination throne.
For the first time ever, the streaming service garnered more Emmy nods than the premium cable network.
Netflix picked up 112 nominations on Thursday morning to usual awards season king HBO’s 108 — despite the return of Game of Thrones to eligibility with its seventh season. (Last year, by comparison, Netflix had 91 nominations to HBO’s 111). NBC was third this year with 78 nominations and FX fourth with 50.
Among series, GoT was still tops with 22 nominations, followed by NBC’s Saturday Night Live (21), HBO’s Westworld (21), Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale (20) and FX’s Atlanta (18), Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (14) and HBO’s Barry (13).
So how did Netflix manage to beat HBO without any titles among the year’s top eight most nominated series?
The same way Netflix manages to be such a competitive platform — not by doing a few shows extremely well, but by doing a lot of shows very well. Netflix racked up nods through a wide breadth of nominations for 40 shows in total. Historical drama The Crown picked up 13. Sci-fi drama Stranger Things got 12. Retro dramedy GLOW got 10. Black Mirror got seven. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknowngot five. Ozark got five. And on and on it went. It adds up.
Plus Netflix put its considerable revenue heft behind pushing its shows with awards season marketing. HBO does this as well, but again, Netflix had a lot of contenders. One report noted that Netflix bought 13 ads and held three standalone For Your Consideration events alone to push season 2 of GLOW to TV Academy voters.
“We congratulate our creative partners on their unprecedented success today, garnering Netflix a leading 112 nominations,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in a statement. “We are particularly enthused to see the breadth of our programming celebrated with nominations spread across 40 new and returning titles which showcase our varied and expansive slate – comedies, dramas, movies, limited series, documentary, variety, animation and reality.”
HBO put out a statement of its own on Thursday, slightly less enthusiastic, and not attributed to any executive in particular: “HBO is very pleased with its 108 nominations, especially the wide range over so many categories. We’re grateful to all our nominees for making this the eighth year we’ve had 100 nominations or more. We look forward to Sept 17th.” Translation: Okay, fine, but we still did great and let’s see who actually wins.
On HBO’s side, the network’s luck wasn’t the best this year. While Westworld, GoTand Silicon Valley each had at least one not-entirely-unexpected honor, and newcomer dramedy Barry quite deservedly got some attention, moving GoT stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington to the lead actor categories resulted in a strike-out on both counts. A potential Emmy-bait adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 starring Black Panther sensation Michael B. Jordan wasn’t loved by critics or Emmy voters. Veteran talk show Real Time with Bill Maher snapped its long-running nomination streak. And even casting A-lister Al Pacino in Paterno didn’t pan out.
The upset is sure to add fuel to the conversation swirling around AT&T’s plans for HBO, which is part of the telecom giant’s Time Warner acquisition. Despite HBO racking up $6.3 billion in revenue last year, Warner Media chief executive John Stankey recently lectured the network’s staff on how their channel is too boutique and how it should aim for a broader array of programming with “more hours of engagement” a’ la Netflix.