HBO, AMC take top Emmy awards, holding off Netflix

Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:20am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While upstart streaming service Netflix Inc burst into the Emmy party this year, it was cable networks with the most to celebrate on Sunday night as HBO dominated and AMC grabbed the prestigious best drama prize for "Breaking Bad."

Premium cable channel HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, took home the most primetime Emmy trophies, 27 in total, for series including "Veep," "The Newsroom," and "Boardwalk Empire," plus Liberace movie "Behind the Candelabra." Broadcast network ABC's "Modern Family" won best comedy.

Netflix, which made history with the first Emmy nominations in major categories for a TV series delivered online, walked away almost empty-handed from Sunday's televised awards. The video streaming service landed one honor on Sunday, going to David Fincher for drama series directing for "House of Cards."

The political thriller from Netflix, released all at once in February, lost the best drama trophy to "Breaking Bad," an AMC series starring Bryan Cranston as a meth-dealing high school teacher. Anna Gunn won best supporting actress for her role on the show.

Netflix may have helped boost momentum for "Breaking Bad." Past seasons of the show are available on the streaming service, giving audiences a chance to binge on older episodes to catch up. "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan credited Netflix for helping to build his show's audience. "I think Netflix kept us on the air," he said backstage.

AMC, owned by AMC Networks Inc, also split the final season of "Breaking Bad" in two, enjoying a surge in ratings and a crescendo of critical and social media buzz perfectly timed as Emmy voters cast their ballots.

The first six episodes of the eight-episode ending to Walter White's saga, released weekly starting in August, averaged 5.2 million viewers, more than double last year's audience, according to AMC data based on live and same-day viewership.

Emmy nods bring prestige and can boost viewer interest in shows, which, for most networks, helps attract more advertisers. For pay-cable channels like HBO and Showtime, Emmy recognition can drive higher subscription fees.   Continued...

The logo for HBO, Home Box Office, the American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner, is pictured during the HBO presentation at the Cable portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California August 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser