The People v. O.J. Simpson and Game of Thrones Dominate the 2016 Emmys

Broadcast TV left on the outside looking in, again

Headshot of Jason Lynch

On the night before the 2016-17 TV season began, the television industry honored its very best shows and actors at the 68th Emmy Awards—and the broadcast networks once again found themselves dominated by cable and streaming networks.

For three hours on ABC, a series of broadcast stars strode onstage at the Microsoft Theater, and more often than not, presented Emmys to HBO's Game of Thrones, FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Amazon's Transparent.

Of 27 Emmy awards, just four went to broadcast outlets: Kate McKinnon won for supporting actress in a comedy (NBC's Saturday Night Live), NBC's The Voice was named best reality competition program, Regina King won for supporting actress in a limited series (ABC's American Crime) and Fox's Grease: Live was honored for directing in a variety special.

HBO and FX dominated the evening, with six Emmys apiece, led by Game of Thrones and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Netflix and Amazon were also well represented (with three and two awards, respectively), and even BBC America snuck in, as Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany, who read her acceptance speech via smartphone, was a surprise pick for best actress in a drama series. USA's shift away from "blue skies" programs paid off with its first major acting Emmy, for Mr. Robot star Rami Malek. "Please tell me you're seeing this, too!" was his clever opening line, referencing his Mr. Robot alter ego.

Counting Creative Arts Emmys wins the previous week, HBO won 22 Emmys in all this year, while 18 went to FX. Netflix came in third, with nine wins.

That's not to say that the broadcast outlets were snubbed. In a year where Emmy voters somehow got their nominations mostly right, the winners were similarly on point for most of the night, at least until Game of Thrones took over at the end. Louie Anderson was a surprise (yet completely deserving) winner for supporting actor in a comedy for FX's Baskets, while Julia Louis-Dreyfus rightfully won her fifth Emmy in a row for Veep, in a speech packed with laughs (she apologized for inadvertently creating "the current political climate" with their show) and tears (she paid tribute to her father, who died on Friday). FX's sensational miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, earned every one of its Emmys for best limited series, writing and actors Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown and  Courtney B. Vance.

A complete list of Sunday's Emmy winners can be found here.

For most of the night, the only way that broadcast stars managed to get on the Emmy stage was as presenters. So the broadcast networks at least got to see their actors like Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Weatherly, Minnie Driver, Taraji P. Henson, Julie Bowen, Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn on the broadcast, even if none of them gave acceptance speeches.

And while ABC was able to pack the Emmy telecast with promos for its new fall shows, which start debuting this week, the streaming outlets got in on the action too, with Hulu, Amazon and Netflix all running spots during the Emmys, reminding audiences that they have plenty of other TV options to consider as the broadcast fall premieres kick off.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
Publish date: September 18, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT