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Netflix tops HBO in Emmy nominations for the first time

Data: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: It demonstrates a massive shift in the elite television business from traditional TV companies to digital streaming companies that can pour billions of dollars into content. HBO has lead Emmy nominations for the past 17 years.

The bigger picture: Roughly one third (30%) of all 538 Emmy nominations this year went to tech platforms. Leading the nominations in totals by platform were Netflix (112), Hulu (27) and Amazon Prime Video (22).

Why it's happening: The corporate structure of newer tech companies, as well as the pace of tech innovation, has caused investors to reward companies that can scale and adapt to consumer trends quickly, as opposed to companies that focus on consistently delivering profit.

  • Because of this, streaming companies are able to invest billions of dollars in creating and buying content to lure viewers from traditional networks. Those investments often mean that those companies are accruing of billions of dollars of debt, but it also means they have a greater chance of winning awards.
  • Netflix, for example, is estimated to spend upwards of $10 billion on content annually. Amazon will spend roughly $6 billion on content this year. By contrast, most of the networks, like CBS and NBC, will spend roughly $2 billion.

The big picture: Some of the shows with the most nominations came from the tech platforms, while others came from traditional networks. HBO's Game Of Thrones had the most nominations (22) in all categories, followed by NBC's Saturday Night Live (21) and HBO's Westworld (21).