The Biggest Questions From the HBO-Dominated 2023 Emmy Nominations

The Warner Bros. Discovery network pulled in 127 nominations, but will that impact the brand's changing strategy

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year … awards season.

The 2023 Emmy nominations have arrived, and HBO/Max is leading the way. Yvette Nicole Brown of A Black Lady Sketch Show and Television Academy chairman Frank Scherma announced the nominations Wednesday morning amid a tense time for Hollywood. The industry has been paralyzed since May by the ongoing writer’s strike, and a looming potential strike from members of the SAG/AFTRA union isn’t helping things.

“We hope the ongoing guild negotiations can come to an equitable and swift resolution,” Scherma said while opening the presentation.

As streaming services once again dominate the awards (Apple TV+ landed 54 nominations alone, with Ted Lasso becoming the most-nominated comedy for the third consecutive year), many questions remain on the horizon for this year’s awards.

What does HBO’s big day mean for Warner Bros. Discovery?

HBO and Max earned a whopping 127 nominations, the most of any platform in 2023. It tied the decades-old record held by CBS in 1973 and NBC in 1992 with four nominations for outstanding drama series.

Succession’s final season led the way with 27 nominations (with a record three nominations for outstanding best actor). Breakout series The Last of Us earned 24 nominations, and the second season of The White Lotus pulled in 23—and broke its own previous record with nine nominations in the supporting actor/actress categories.

So while it’s clear that content is king at HBO, the Emmy nominations come during a period of major transition at parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. In April, its flagship streaming service dropped HBO from its moniker, becoming just Max.

And now, it’s in the process of licensing some of its most iconic series like Insecure, True Blood, Six Feet Under and Band of Brothers to rival Netflix in an attempt to raise cash. WBD also removed some of its most high-profile—and Emmy-awarded—series like Westworld from its platforms as a tax write-off.

Despite HBO leading the way on Emmys day, it’s unlikely that CEO David Zaslav will shift the current content strategy as WBD works to target $3.5 billion in cost savings over the next three years following the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger last year.

How will the writer’s strike impact the Emmys?

As of now, the 75th Primetime Emmys is scheduled for Sept. 18, airing on Fox, but the ongoing Writer’s Guild of America strike may delay the awards.

More than 11,000 writers have been on strike for 72 days, and negotiations haven’t resumed since the collapse in early May.

Should the strike continue into the next several weeks, the ceremony could be pushed as late as January, though Fox hasn’t commented publicly on when a new date would take place.

Who will be the new late-night king?

Late-night hosts have much to celebrate in 2023, as the category is wide open for the first time in years. HBO’s John Oliver has long reigned supreme in the outstanding talk series category, winning seven years in a row.

But now, Oliver’s show moved over to a new category, Outstanding Scripted Variety Series, and is going up against the likes of Saturday Night Live and A Black Lady Sketch Show.

That leaves room for Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart to chase the trophy. For Colbert, Kimmel and Meyers, it would be a first-time award.

However, the late-night series have been off the air since the strike began in May. And with declining ratings, there’s no telling how late-night will change in the years to come as shows, with The Late Late Show already being traded for a less expensive series following James Corden’s departure.

What does Jury Duty’s nomination mean for AVOD?

Freevee breakout hit Jury Duty scored four Emmy nominations, including best original comedy series and a nod for James Marsden for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series.

The docu-comedy follows Ronald Gladden, a solar contractor from San Diego, as he navigates Jury Duty—without knowing the trial is fake and everyone around him is an actor.

The Amazon-owned AVOD service only began pushing into original content in late 2020 but is fully embracing the strategy. During the company’s NewFronts presentation this year, Amazon announced that a slate of Prime Video original series is coming to Freevee for the first time—meaning advertisers will have the ability to buy into previously ad-free content. More than 100 original series will eventually arrive on the service.

As AVOD has exploded in popularity, other services also earned Emmy nominations this year. The Roku Channel earned its first nominations in 2022 for original Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas, and this year Daniel Radcliffe pulled a lead actor nomination for his role in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

With AVOD only continuing to climb, it’s likely we’ll see more originals—and therefore nominations—arrive on free services.

Is The Bear a comedy?

FX’s The Bear earned several nominations—including outstanding comedy series.

While the show is many things, including a nuanced and realistic portrayal of PTSD, it certainly does not have the same comedic effect as fellow nominees like Abbott Elementary and Ted Lasso. But with such a crowded TV landscape, a series like The Bear underscores how studios jostle for positioning and recognition in the age of Peak TV.

As one Adweek reporter put it, “I’ve laughed like once in that show?” with another reporter following with “calling The Bear a comedy is a stretch—it makes me cry almost every episode.”