OK, get out your playbooks and follow along: FX and Hulu are separate Disney-owned entities. FX produces original shows for Hulu under the “FX on Hulu” banner. But those shows, which don’t actually air on FX, will be credited by the Television Academy as FX entries at the Emmys.
National Geographic and Disney Plus are separate Disney-owned entities. Nat Geo produces original shows for Disney Plus under a National Geographic vertical. And those shows, which don’t actually air on Nat Geo, will be credited by the Television Academy as Disney Plus entries at the Emmys.
HBO Max and HBO are both WarnerMedia properties that will be campaigning for Emmys separately. HBO Max and TNT/TBS/TruTV are all WarnerMedia properties that share the same Emmy campaign team.
Independently produced series that run on YouTube are eligible for Emmys, and might be competing against YouTube Originals that are developed and run by the digital platform. Apple has already won two Primetime Emmys, for “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” in 2018 and 2019 — but that was for Apple Music. This is Apple TV Plus’ first year of Emmy eligibility.
Yes, there will be a quiz.
Network execs used to pooh-pooh the idea of brands — it was the shows, stupid. But cable, and now streaming, have proven that branding can be crucial in attracting audiences to sample your wares in a crowded marketplace. It’s why the promise of a show on HBO or FX comes with a certain expectation of quality.
But as the industry slowly transitions from a linear to a digital, on-demand world, we’re entering an age of brand confusion. That was best demonstrated when HBO Max launched last month, and consumers tried to make sense of how HBO (the pay network), HBO GO (its digital site for authenticated cable subscribers) and HBO Now (its stand-alone over-the-top digital offering) differed. And I’m sure there are still plenty of viewers who haven’t figured out that FX’s “Mrs. America” is only on Hulu.
Those outlets are doing all they can to educate audiences, and over time people will adjust. And of course, there will come a point — perhaps still years in the future — when HBO Max and FX on Hulu will be the primary homes for HBO and FX.
In the meantime, all these changes have led to some necessary questions on how the Television Academy adjusts them. The ramifications are relatively mild, of course: If “Mrs. America” wins an Emmy in the limited series category, or for star Cate Blanchett, does it really matter which network is credited?
Well, for the teams that pour their heart and soul into crafting Emmy campaigns, it kind of does. FX lobbied to be labeled the network of record for “Mrs. America” since it was developed at the network and produced by its in-house production company, and both the marketing and Emmy FYC campaign also came out of the FX camp. Nat Geo is also the driving force behind “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” and is overseeing that show’s Emmy efforts as well — but because it was marketed as a cornerstone of the Disney Plus launch, it’s still being listed as a Disney Plus show.
Until cable got into the Emmy campaign game (led, of course, by HBO in the early 1990s), the broadcast networks didn’t bother at all. It was mostly up to the studios to submit their shows, even though the networks would ultimately get the credit for those wins.
“There was a curious arrogance to the networks, which reasoned that they had way too many programs and producer/showrunners to contend with,” says one awards vet. “They felt ordained to collect the gold every year. They certainly had the money to bankroll annual awards campaigns but didn’t recognize the value of a unified awards push.”
Even now, studios will often take the lead in campaigns — particularly for broadcast shows. “It varies dramatically from streamer to streamer, from cable to broadcast and from show to show as to who’s really running the [campaign],” says another awards exec. “Every campaign is a team effort. But too often the consumer-facing portal gets full credit or is considered to be the driving force when in fact, a lot of times it’s the studios and production companies behind the shows that are really pushing.”
Whereas back in the era of broadcast dominance, when awards didn’t impact ratings and brands didn’t matter, now they do play a large role in helping market and, yes, define a brand. It’s why Netflix bought an entire awards marketing company (Lisa Taback’s LT-LA). It’s why HBO execs are very conscious of delineating their brand from HBO Max. And it’s why FX made sure “Mrs. America” and “Devs” weren’t considered Hulu or “FX on Hulu” shows, but enter the Emmy race as FX shows.