As TV world shifts, HBO retains its Emmy swagger

Wed Sep 18, 2013 6:45pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When fictional columnist Carrie Bradshaw helped HBO grab its first series Emmy award in 2001 for comedy "Sex and the City," the premium cable network's main competition came from broadcast networks CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox.

Today, the field fighting for Emmy glory includes contenders from the past few years like basic cable channels AMC and FX, but also the much talked-about rookie, the video streaming service Netflix. And then there's a resurgent PBS, the U.S. public television channel.

Nowhere is the revolution in how people watch television more apparent than when the TV industry gathers on Sunday for its annual prime time Emmy awards ceremony.

Among the contenders for the night's top drama trophy are AMC's "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," Showtime's "Homeland," Netflix's "House of Cards," and PBS's British period drama "Downton Abbey."

And, of course, HBO. The network has earned the most nominations for 13 straight years, and will compete for best drama on Sunday with its medieval fantasy series "Game of Thrones."

In all, HBO collected 108 nominations this year, its highest total since 2004, and more than twice as many as its closest competitors, CBS and NBC with 53 each. The nods include best comedy nominations for HBO's "Veep" and "Girls."

"'Breaking Bad' and Netflix might not exist like they do without HBO having led the way in showing that really smart adult dramas could draw an audience," "Breaking Bad" producer Tom Schnauz told Reuters.

HBO landed its first series Emmy award for outstanding comedy in 2001 for its ground-breaking, female-led show "Sex and the City," starring Sarah Jessica Parker as fictional New York journalist Carrie Bradshaw.   Continued...

Host Jimmy Kimmel opens the show at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, in this September 23, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files