You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

What Is Winning an Emmy Worth?

The rough cost of a top-tier Emmy campaign — the kind mounted this year for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” and HBO’s “Big Little Lies” — is $1 million. But the value of winning an Emmy is harder to quantify. The payoff comes via intangibles, such as seeing one’s brand burnished on an industry-wide stage. But some see little value in the awards besides ego boost.

Speaking at Variety‘s Entertainment and Technology Summit this month, TNT and TBS president Kevin Reilly asserted that while “it’s been long held that really in terms of perception,” an Emmy win is a positive, “from a bottom-line business point of view, no,” it has no value.

But in the Peak TV era, it can’t hurt. With more than 500 scripted shows projected across broadcast, cable, and streaming this year, according to FX Networks research, programmers on every platform struggle to market successfully.

“Winning an Emmy is yet another way that a show can leverage something to make it stand out from the competition,” says Melanie Shreffler, senior insights director at Cassandra, a branding-consultant firm. “These days even a critically acclaimed show has to fight for a survival.”

And with more nominees in the comedy and drama series categories hailing from streaming services whose reach falls short of broadcast or cable, the Emmys provide a rare opportunity for broad exposure. Amazon’s “Transparent” and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” were not in danger of being canceled before their acting-category Emmy wins, but as they racked up awards, their profiles grew — as did the profiles of the shows’ creators, Jill Soloway and Jenji Kohan.

For producers, Emmy recognition is a coveted personal and professional boon. Once a programmer proves that its shows are on the Emmy radar — as Hulu did with eight Emmy wins, including the best drama series award, for “The Handmaids Tale” Sunday — it has another carrot with which to lure top talent and projects.

“The value is not just in what this signals to the audience about the value of the show,” says Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. “I think it also creates a great deal of value in what it signals to creators in terms of the value of the platform. I think we’ve seen that with Netflix and Amazon, and we should all be excited to see that with Hulu.”

Likewise, Smith sees risk in striving for Emmys and falling short. With “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu became the first streaming service to win in the drama-series category, beating Netflix to the punch — despite the fact that Netflix is believed to have spent significantly more than any of its linear and digital rivals this season on campaigning. That inability to deliver a win despite such visible effort could have negative impact.

“It was noticeable that they didn’t take home any of the big awards,” Smith says of Netflix. “Does that hurt them with their audience? Probably not. Does that hurt them with creators? Quite possibly. Creators are going to places where they can have the freedom to make great content, but another piece of that is winning awards.”

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content