Network TV’s Emmy Hopes, from “This Is Us” to “Abbott Elementary”


In State of the studios, Vanity Salon’s Awards Insider takes a look at the campaigns of some of this Emmy season’s biggest players, from favorites to underdogs, on networks and streamers both established and new to the game. This entry focuses on broadcast channels , experiencing a resurgence in awards buzz, as well as their fledgling streaming siblings.

If the Emmys signal major changes and trends in television, this year’s ceremony could mark the end of an era for broadcasting. Network shows have slowly faded from the Television Academy’s purview as voters squeezed premium cable, basic cable and streaming services at the expense of what defined the medium. Two of the last remaining aired series to resonate with the Emmys, Blackish and It’s us, completed this season; they earned eight collective Best Series nominations (the first in comedy, the second in drama) and general recognition for their cast and crew. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, who won André Braugher four supporting cast nods, also bid farewell, a twilight example of a canceled series jumping to another channel, as opposed to the current norm of moving to streaming. By all indications, this year should cement the obsolescence of network television.

Only, that’s not quite the case. The television dinosaur has finally adapted, both in content and cast, resulting in an unexpected explosion of suitors. Like my colleague Rebecca Ford reported, ABC Abbott Elementary School leads this pack, with solid ratings and even stronger reviews, likely propelling it to a huge name draw next week. But the story extends far beyond the beloved Quinta Brunson mockumentary, and into murkier territory that raises some tough questions about the state of broadcasting and how its titans are coping.

Take NBC. This puts an end to the great network hope of the last decade, It’s us, while armed with a massive slate of new suitors between the linear channel and its fledgling streamer, Peacock. After a few years of slightly lower nomination totals, It’s us seems ready for a big farewell to awards. Buzz is high for everything from the script for the finale to mandy moorelead performance. “NBC has done great things this year for all of its shows,” says a strategist familiar with NBC and Peacock campaigns. “There has been an increase in publicity… and [the cast] does a lot. A lot of it was because they really wanted to honor the band on this last go-around. It also helped the rewards front.

As the Emmys shift more and more to shows that click audiences — which aren’t just good, but popular — finding viewers is actually becoming a key part of the awards conversations. This is especially true for studios whose content doesn’t hit the air of time as easily as, say, HBO Max or Netflix; without fans, they have nothing. In partnership with Universal Studio Group, NBC kicked off its first Emmys activation site this season at the Los Angeles Aster, hoping to attract both voters and the occasional crowd. Getting attention early and often is the new name of the game. “How do you find an audience when the pool is so big and crowded?” said the strategist. “Where are your viewers and how do you find them? I will spend a lot more time thinking about it for next season.

NBC and Peacock have struggled to secure awards for their new programs. The latter’s big hit of 2021, Girls5Eva, received full court press from a campaign to walk away with a mere comedy writer nomination. This year, prestigious limited series dominated by personalities such as Renee Zellweger, Kate McKinnon, Emmy Rossum, and Joshua Jackson seem destined for equally disappointing fates next week, despite some rave reviews. “The benefits are that it’s the Wild West – you can be creative, you can come up with new ideas and there are ways to make it happen,” the strategist says of the campaign for a new streamer. “But people are going to watch established streamers because it’s only natural. It’s already on their TV. They don’t have to chase it.

As the networks have moved away from Emmys dominance, a strange “there can only be one” kind of mantra has taken hold. In the drama, it was It’s us; in comedy this year is Primary Abbott. The ABC sitcom is set to have a major airing next week, which has put rival comedies airing in breakouts like CBS Ghosts and NBCs American car to an inevitable campaign disadvantage.

CBS has had its own kind of evolution in comedy, moving away from the traditional multicam setup of years past (which it has dominated for the past decade) toward a younger format. The set leads Ghosts is a massive hit for the network and has found a completely different audience on Paramount+, where it simulcasts. “Whether Abbott wasn’t in the mix this year I think Ghosts would probably be more prominent in that conversation,” says a strategist familiar with various campaigns for CBS and Paramount+ shows this season.

The Television Critics Association recently covered both Abbott and Ghosts with nominations, a real stamp of approval. Still, the path to Emmys recognition is uncertain, despite Phantom‘s buzz and cheers, partly because Abbott holds After buzz and cheers. “The most important thing is to get it out in front of people,” says the strategist. “There are the rewards and the exposure, but it also allows a breakout show to pop even further. This is the strategy. »


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