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Broadcast networks could be shut out of the best comedy series race for the first time

  • As recently as eight years ago, broadcast comedies nabbed all the nominations for best comedy series. Last year, however, there was only one network show among the eight nominees for best comedy: ABC's Black-ish. "What changed?" says Scott Feinberg. "The networks, which were essentially the only game in town until cable took off in the '80s (the first non-network comedy series nominee was HBO's The Larry Sanders Show in 1993), still have the largest built-in audience on TV — they're free, after all — but have become less desirable places for top comedy talent to work." Feinberg adds: "Premium cable and streamers are less risk-averse. Their shows don't have to be as unobjectionable as possible in order to retain the largest audience, the better to generate the greatest revenue through commercials; in fact, these outlets often prefer shows that target narrower demographics, since those people may become subscribers. Moreover, their shows can say and show anything, rather than be neutered by standards and practices; can tell a story without constant interruption, which requires constant re-exposition; and can offer progressive stories, rather than requiring each episode to stand on its own so as to be marketable for eventual syndication. Thus, edgier people, including Emmy voters, tend to prefer them."

    TOPICS: Emmys, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Black-ish