Skip to main content

It’s Not Luck — It’s HBO

Nearly a decade ago industry observers questioned whether HBO would ever reach the same lofty status of critical acclaim and buzz-worthiness after shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Sex and the City left the air.

The Television Academy answered that question by awarding the pay service a resounding 43 Emmy Awards. HBO took home the triple crown of the Emmys, winning Outstanding Drama Series for popular fantasy drama series Game of Thrones; Outstanding Comedy Series for quirky political satire Veep; and Outstanding Limited Series for poignant miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

The network’s 43 Emmys — 14 awarded during the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on Sept. 20 and 29 during the Sept. 12 Creative Arts Emmys ceremony — easily topped the 30 combined Emmys won by broadcast networks NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC and PBS, and the nine Emmys garnered by OTT services Netflix and Amazon.

With 12 awards, Game of Thrones also set an all-time Emmy record for most statuettes won, besting the nine Emmys won by NBC’s political drama The West Wing in 2000. Veep, with its five Emmy wins — including the fourth straight Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series win for star Julia Louis-Dreyfus — won cable’s first Outstanding Comedy Series statuette since Sex and the City in 2001.

While HBO enjoyed a record-setting Emmy performance, it has over the years consistently finished at the top of the Emmys heap by adhering to a single operating principle of going after quality producers and writers and giving them incredible artistic freedom to apply their craft.

Finally, HBO executives seem to have a keen ability to greenlight projects that end up appealing to both audiences and critics.

HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said in a pre-Emmys interview with Multichannel News that 2015 was already shaping up to be a momentous year for the network, with HBO having earned a record 126 Emmy nominations.

“What was so great about it was that it was spread out in all divisions — miniseries, movies, documentaries, comedy series and comedy specials,” he said. “We’re continuing to lean into all of it, and hopefully next year is as successful creatively as we feel like this year has been.”

HBO also led a great night for cable networks, which together won 69% of the Primetime Emmy Awards presented. Seven cable networks drew multiple awards, with Comedy Central and FX Networks leading those with eight wins each.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.