×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix, HBO Get Ready to Rumble as Emmy Nominations and Phase 2 of Voting Loom

Last year, Netflix ended HBO’s 17-year Emmy-nomination domination, posting 112 nods overall (to HBO’s 108), continuing the service’s miraculous rise. Now comes the next goal, which may be in reach this year: Surpassing HBO’s all-time record.

HBO earned 126 nominations in 2015, its all-time best and a number that Netflix could hit this year. It’s all about volume, and Netflix has it. In virtually every major category, the streamer has multiple contenders — so much so that in several cases it will be competing with itself.

But when the Emmy ceremony rolls around in September, it may be a night to remember for HBO — which may not have the volume of Netflix, but is coming locked and loaded with perhaps its most aggressive stable of contenders in years. This should be a battle worth watching when the second phase of Emmy voting gets under way in August.

But first, let’s talk nominations. The rise of Netflix has been staggering, as it took just five years for the streamer to go from being a small entrant in the race to leading it.

In 2013, the service landed 13 nominations and won three — including one for “House of Cards” director David Fincher, who secured the first major Emmy (directing for a drama series) for a streamer. By 2016, that number was 54 noms, and then things really took off, with 91 nominations (and 20 wins) in 2017, and 112 noms last year.

With so many entrants, Netflix is expected to continue to do well across every genre. Don’t forget: Most categories are in crafts and below-the-line fields, where Netflix’s sheer tonnage will serve it well when it comes time to tally nominations on July 16.

The Emmys have become a bit of a two-network race, with Netflix and HBO battling for bragging rights and everyone else behind them. Last year, the results
were a bit of a draw, with both outlets ultimately landing 23 wins. Now it’s time for the rematch, and in what may have been the most aggressive (and expensive) Emmy campaign in memory, Netflix definitely pulled out all the stops with an effort that centered on a massive installation at Raleigh Studios.

Of course, the fact that we’re talking about Emmy nominations as a horse race is what frustrates networks that aren’t Netflix. Among those who would argue the streaming giant is in a different game are HBO execs, who ironically were long the subject of competitors’ ire. HBO was once the only contender boasting the kind of big budgets that everyone else could only dream of.

“HBO has been a very formidable 500-pound gorilla for a very long time,” one network chief tells me. “For 20 years, they have consistently had 100 or more Emmy nominations. Not every year, but most. What is new is just the sheer number of at-bats that a streaming service can take. It seems very overwhelming at times.”

That’s why even HBO brass can’t help grumbling at what they say is an apples-and-oranges comparison. “Netflix [last year] submitted 41 shows for Emmy nominations, and we submitted 20,” one exec told me earlier this year. “We got four less noms. If ‘Sharp Objects’ had aired a month or two earlier, we would have had the most nominations, and it wouldn’t be a story. Why did ‘Sharp Objects’ air later? Because we have budgets to manage. So it is a different currency. They have Monopoly money.”

Major series wins have eluded Netflix, however. While Hulu has scored an outstanding drama nod (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Amazon won comedy last year (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Netflix’s only program wins have been for TV movie — in 2017 and 2018, for “Black Mirror” installments.

And HBO might play spoiler again this year, as it is expected to be a front-runner in key categories with contenders such as “Game of Thrones,” “Veep,” “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” “Chernobyl” and “Deadwood: The Movie.” Brace yourself: The second half of this year’s Emmy campaign promises to get even more rowdy. 

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content