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Primetime Emmys: Three Takeaways From Thursday’s Nominations

Complete Coverage: Emmys 2014

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Television is increasingly becoming digital, and following last year’s breakthrough by Netflix, the nominations for next month’s Primetime Emmys prove that is the case more than ever.

Armed with 31 nominations – more than double last year’s count – Netflix far and away led the digital charge, with a nomination count on par with ABC and PBS, and well ahead of broadcaster Fox, which had 18. While neither Amazon nor Hulu garnered nominations, seven different digital platforms received nods, including firsts for Funny Or Die and AOL.

Thursday’s nominations also reflected another growing trend in the TV industry: the melding of film and television.

The nominations were littered with those more known for their big screen exploits such as Woody Harrelson, Billy Bob Thornton, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Matthew McConaughey – who is gunning for an Oscar/Emmy combo in 2014, having won an Academy Award for Dallas Buyers Club earlier this year.

With that said, here are a few takeaways from Thursday morning’s announcement.

Freshmen Crash the Party

Continuing a trend that began with the Golden Globes, series that were eligible for Emmy considering for the first time made their presence felt, garnering 12 of the top 60 nominations (the four main acting categories and Outstanding Drama/Comedy), up from five first-timers last year.

That charge was led by Silicon Valley, Orange Is the New Black and True Detective, which all grabbed nominations for Outstanding Comedy and Drama, respectively.

Overall, there were 17 new or different nominees among the four main acting categories, along with the three aforementioned newcomers for Outstanding Comedy and Drama. That means of the 60 top nominations, one-third of them (20) were different from last year.

Some of the turnover can be attributed to veteran series such as 30 Rock – which last year nabbed four nominations including one for Outstanding Comedy – that are no longer on the air. Next year should see more changes, as this is the final time Breaking Bad, which nabbed three acting nods and an Outstanding Drama nomination, is eligible.

With Stephen Colbert moving to CBS' Late Show and Larry Wilmore taking his post at Comedy Central, next year could see a much-needed shuffle among the Outstanding Variety Series category as well.

Ratings Don’t Mean Everything

Once again, Emmy voters didn't seemed to be swayed by a show’s popularity one way or the other.

Along with highly-rated series like The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Scandal receiving nominations, shows with smaller audiences like Louie, Parks & Recreation, Portlandia, Mad Men and Girls – the latter two remain critics’ favorites but attract niche-sized audiences – also received nods from the Academy.

Good Time to Split Up TV Movie/Miniseries

Following a few years of combining TV movies and miniseries into one category – largely due to the lack of the former at the time – the Academy split the categories back up this year (the acting categories remained consolidated).

That appeared to be a good decision, as telepics such as HBO’s Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, Lifetime’s The Trip to Bountiful, and NatGeo’s Killing Kennedy might have been shut out otherwise. The same can be said for miniseries Luthor (BBC), Treme (HBO), and Bonnie & Clyde (A&E).