Any hopes of knocking HBO off its prime perch in the Emmy nominations category were dashed when the premium cable net, and standard bearer in scripted series, bagged a best-in-class 94 nominations, way, way ahead of FX at 56. If there was any consolation for network execs not affiliated with HBO, it was that HBO’s total is down from last year’s 126.
FX’s tally was boosted by American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. FX’s 56 nominations is up substantially over 2015’s 38—a grand showing for the basic cable network.
Netflix took the third spot at 54, well up from last year’s 34, thanks to strong performances from drama House of Cards, docu-series Making a Murderer, and comedies Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Also in the SVOD arena, Amazon was nominated 16 times, with Transparent picking up five.
NBC was the top broadcaster in terms of Emmy nominations, scoring 41 mentions, level with last year. ABC and CBS got 35 apiece, while Fox bagged 29, including a nod for Taraji P. Henson for best actress in a drama for her work on Empire.
PBS, meanwhile, seized 26 nominations, 10 tied to recently concluded Downton Abbey.
Comedy Central has three finalists for variety sketch series (Drunk History, Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele), but the host change at The Daily Show played a part in the cable net dropping from 25 nominations last year to 17 this year. Comedy was the surprise runner-up to HBO at last year’s Emmys, bringing home four trophies, including three for Daily Show—a happy moment for departing Jon Stewart.
Among the premium cablers, Showtime was nominated 22 times, including five for Ray Donovan.
On HBO, Game of Thrones alone scored 23 nominations, just ahead of The People v. O.J. Simpson (22), while FX’s Fargo was third at 18. HBO’s Veep was nominated 17 times, while NBC’s Saturday Night Live picked up 16.
So prevalent is GoT on the Emmys short lists that two supporting actors, Peter Dinklage and Kit Harrington, are competing for an Emmy, as are three supporting actresses—Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams.
HBO led the pack with 14 Emmy wins last September, including top honors for drama (Game of Thrones) and comedy (Veep).
Bruce Rosenblum, Television Academy president/CEO, saluted the industry for its relevance and diversity, calling this current era “the most spectacular run in its history with breakthrough creativity, emerging platforms and dynamic new opportunities for our industry's storytellers.”
Netflix’s House of Cards scored 13 Emmy nominations, AMC’s The Night Manager got 12 and HBO’s Silicon Valley picked up 11.
USA, meanwhile, enjoyed a strong showing from Mr. Robot, whose second season kicked off July 13. The anxious drama was named six times.
Of course, nominations are just that. The real prizes, and bragging rights, get handed up at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles Sept. 18.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.