“Game of Thrones,” HBO’s epic fantasy series, was nominated for 23 Emmy awards, including best TV drama, propelling Time Warner Inc.’s premium cable network to the front of the pack in the annual race for television’s top honors.
Last year’s winner for best drama, “Game of Thrones” will compete for the Emmy with “The Americans,” “Better Call Saul,” “Downton Abbey,” “House of Cards,” “Mr. Robot” and “Homeland,” the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said Thursday in Los Angeles.
The nominations and the annual awards show give TV networks the opportunity to promote their top shows and bring in new viewers, a particularly tough challenge these days as Hollywood produces a record number of scripted series for an ever-increasing number of outlets. Streaming services from Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. now vie for viewers alongside broadcast and cable networks such as CBS, HBO, Showtime and FX.
Last year’s top comedy, “Veep,” the HBO series featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, will vie again for that award with “Black-ish,” “Master of None,” “Modern Family,” “Silicon Valley,” “Transparent” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The contenders for the Emmys were announced by Anthony Anderson, a nominee for his role in “Black-ish” and Lauren Graham, of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.”
While HBO was the clear leader, 21st Century Fox’s FX network and Netflix stood out, getting 38 more nominations between them this year. FX garnered 22 alone for the widely watched limited series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Cuba Gooding Jr. was nominated for best actor for his portrayal of the former college and professional football star. Comcast Corp.’s USA Network will compete in the best drama series for its critically acclaimed “Mr. Robot.”
Streaming services have pursued awards to validate their efforts at producing their own shows and build credibility with Hollywood’s creative community.
Netflix, with one of the largest production budgets in Hollywood, stood out with its perennial political thriller “House of Cards” at 13 nominations, while shows including “Bloodline,” “Chef’s Table,” “Grace and Frankie” also will vie for Emmys. Hulu, the streaming service owned by major broadcast networks, got its first nominations, one for “Triumph’s Election Special” and another for the adaptation of novelist Stephen King’s “11.22.63.”
All of the newer players must still chase HBO, which swept the top prizes in drama and comedy last year. The Emmy voters tend to be conservative, recognizing the same shows year after year. However, last year’s wins for “Transparent,” an Amazon.com comedy about a father transitioning into a woman, and ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” a murder mystery with black woman in the lead role, led to commentary on transgender rights, sexism and ageism in Hollywood.
Race may be part of the discussion this year as well given recent strife between police and black citizens and two series about O.J. Simpson. Nominees from the FX series about Simpson include Sarah Paulson, for her role as prosecutor Marcia Clark, and Courtney B. Vance, who portrayed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran.
The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards will air live at 6 p.m. MST on Sept. 18 on ABC. Jimmy Kimmel, star of the network’s late-night show, will host the program. ABC earned 35 nominations, including for best comedy “Black-ish” and “Modern Family.” Last year’s show on Fox drew 11.9 million viewers, the smallest audience on record for the program.