The 66th annual Emmy Awards — bestowed by the Los Angeles-based Television Academy — were broadcast for three hours on a Monday night on NBC, which is owned by cable giant Comcast. The last time that happened was back in 1976, and it certainly did not go unnoticed, as the presenter, Seth Meyers, current host of NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and a Saturday Night Live alumni, remarked, “This year we’re doing it on a Monday in August, which I understand in television means the Emmys are about to get canceled.”
The reality is that the Emmys had no other choice, considering that MTV’s Video Music Awards were held on the previous day, Sunday, which is traditionally the Emmy’s turf. Meyers joked that MTV rarely airs music videos anymore, “That’s like the TV networks holding an awards show and giving all the trophies to cable and Netflix. That would be crazy! Why would they do that?”
Very clever, Meyers, very clever.
It seems that everyone could have guessed the major wins would go, in fact, to… cable. With a grand total of five wins, the hit cable series Breaking Bad (which aired its season finale last September) hit a grand slam that was equally as predictable as Modern Family’s success. The ABC hit comedy came up two Emmys short of Breaking Bad. Sherlock, a PBS show, tied with Modern Family for three Emmys, while American Horror Story and Fargo (both on cable network FX) won two.
What was remarkable was the number of nominations HBO had this year: 36 out of a total of 164. But that’s not really surprising. Seemingly unnoticed by the Television Academy, the rules for cable networks are different from those for FTA and not as restrictive. HBO, for example, has the freedom to air just about anything, while standard FTA broadcast television can’t.
It is almost like comparing two different games, with one team following unregulated rugby rules and the other playing strictly regulated touch football. It’s obvious that the team playing rugby will pummel the opposing team.
And yet, even with the unfair advantage, standard FTA broadcasting put up a good fight, winning Outstanding Writing for Miniseries/Movie/Dramatic Special, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and many more. And these accolades came even without obscene amounts of violence, realistic looking dragons, meth labs, sex, horror and foul language.