Netflix Is Already This Year’s Big Emmy Winner, and What Else We Learned From Today’s Nominations

HBO’s Emmy streak wasn’t the only one that ended today

This year's nominations were great for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Atlanta and Glow, but not Modern Family. Sources: Amazon, FX, ABC, Netflix
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Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and Westworld topped this morning’s Emmy nominations tally, but that barely scratches the surface when it comes to analyzing this year’s crop of TV nominees. From Netflix’s seismic victory over HBO to the category that has lost stream, here are the biggest takeaways from this year’s Emmy nominations. (The full list of nominees can be found here.)

Netflix is the new Emmy king…

No matter who emerges triumphant at the ceremonies in September, Netflix is already the big Emmy winner this year. That’s because the streaming service has pulled off something that every other broadcast, cable and streaming outlet has failed to do even once during the past 17 years: surpass HBO as the year’s most-nominated outlet.

But Netflix did the seemingly-impossible this year, nabbing 112 nominations (up from 91 last year) to edge out HBO’s 108 (down slightly from 111 in 2017). Yes, Netflix’s sheer volume of content—and the fact that perennial nominee Veep wasn’t eligible this year for HBO—helped push the tally in its favor.

Especially in a week when HBO’s new owner, AT&T, revealed that it wants to make the network bigger and broader, like Netflix, HBO can no longer point to its Emmy streak as a reason why they should keep the status quo.

…But its streaming rivals are gaining momentum, too

Netflix’s biggest streaming rivals Hulu and Amazon only received a fraction of Netflix’s Emmy nominations, but they also had reason to celebrate today.

Hulu increased its nomination tally from 18 in 2017 to 27 this year, in large part thanks to The Handmaid’s Tale, which received 20 nominations (seven more than in 2017). And Amazon, which was largely an afterthought last year (and whose shut-out at the primetime ceremony helped lead to a complete executive overhaul and change in vision for the streaming service), also saw a nomination jump, from 16 to 22.

With The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s 14 nominations, Amazon will be a much more formidable Emmy presence than last year.

No sophomore slumps this year

Some freshman sensations can’t keep their momentum going in Season 2, but last year’s group of breakout freshman shows continued their Emmy dominance, with Westworld (21 nominations), The Handmaid’s Tale (20), Atlanta (16), The Crown (13) and This Is Us (8) all performing strongly.

And Insecure creator/star Issa Rae, who missed out on a comedy lead actress nomination last year, broke into the pack for Season 2.

That strong sophomore class left less room for this year’s new shows to find their way into the Emmy lineup, though The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (14 nominations), HBO’s Barry (13) and Netflix’s Glow (10) still had strong showings.

But other critically-acclaimed freshman shows like Killing Eve (with two nominations, though one is a biggie: drama lead actress for Sandra Oh) and HBO’s The Deuce (which was shut out completely) struggled to break into the pack this year. Better luck in 2019.

The miniseries category has lost its luster

During the past couple of years, the miniseries category has been among the most competitive of all categories, thanks to powerhouse contenders like Big Little Lies, The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Fargo and The Night Of. But in comparison, this year’s lineup feels like a let down, with National Geographic’s Genius: Picasso, Netflix’s Godless, Showtime’s Patrick Melrose, TNT’s The Alienist and FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

While Versace and Patrick Melrose have their fans, neither show has the adulation of the frontrunners in more recent years.

Emmy voters steer clear of controversy

A few expected contenders were either shut out entirely or saw their nomination tallies considerably curtailed after their stars or creators were involved in major controversies during the past year. Emmy voters clearly did not forgive or forget.

The aftermath of #MeToo movement resulted in zero nominations for Jeffrey Tambor’s Transparent (he didn’t submit his name for contention this year, but the rest of the show was shut out as well) and James Franco’s The Deuce. (Kevin Spacey’s last season of House of Cards came out more than a year ago and wasn’t eligible this year.)

Better Things, which was co-created and co-written by Louis C.K., received only a single nomination (lead actress for Pamela Adlon), even though it deserved much more recognition, especially a spot in the outstanding comedy series category, which expanded to eight slots this year and still couldn’t make space for it.

Meanwhile, the revival of Roseanne had been expected to make a splash in several comedy categories, until star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet prompted the show’s cancelation in late May (instead, ABC will air a Barr-free spinoff series, The Conners, this fall). So instead of a big nomination haul, it ended up with just two, including Laurie Metcalf for comedy supporting actress.

Several deserving shows were overlooked

Peak TV makes it harder for Emmy voters to watch everything, but in a year where few shows were truly spectacular, several deserving shows were unfairly overlooked. None more so that CBS All Access’ The Good Fight, which came into its own in Season 2 (star Christine Baranski, a frequent Emmy nominee for The Good Wife, was also snubbed).

The Good Place did land two nominations for star Ted Danson and guest actress Maya Rudolph, but was worthy of much more.

NBC’s late-night lineup gets left behind

Saturday Night Live got 21 nominations, but the rest of NBC’s late-night lineup once again found itself on the outside looking in. Both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers were shut out of the variety talk series category (which made room for both CBS shows, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah). While Fallon’s omission was expected, Meyers is doing some of the strongest work in late-night and should have a seat at the table, though the show did land a writing nomination.

HBO didn’t have the only busted Emmy streak

Emmy voters have a tendency to keep nominating some shows and performances long after they are deserving of adulation, which is why Modern Family had somehow managed to keep a stranglehold on the comedy series category long after the sitcom’s critical acclaim had cooled. But the show’s eight-year streak has come to an end: for the first time in the show’s history, it was passed over for an outstanding comedy nomination, instead settling for a sound mixing nod.

The 70th Emmy Awards will air Monday, Sept. 17 on NBC. The ceremony will be hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che, who anchor Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.