Yes, its a reminder that the way audiences consume TV has greatly changed over the past five years. And yet, that focus on the decline misses something actually pretty impressive: Broadcast shows like NCIS (which just finished its 18th season), ABCs Greys Anatomy (17 seasons) and NBCs Law & Order: SVU (21 seasons) continue to have massive staying power and tremendous fan bases. And because they boast such large episodic libraries, theyre all among the most-watched acquired shows on streaming.
In the world of the Emmy Awards, however, these shows seem to no longer exist. The last time SVU received an Emmy nomination was in 2011, when Mariska Hargitay was included in the drama lead actress race an award she won for the show in 2006. Greys Anatomy last earned a nom in 2012, for drama guest actress Loretta Devine, who won that same category in 2011 (the shows last Emmy). And NCIS has earned only three nominations in its entire history, most recently in 2013 for stunt coordination.
Of course, its nothing new that Emmy voters tire of a series; ER went from 23 nominations in its first season to two in its final; Modern Family, once an Emmy juggernaut, landed just three nods last year, in its final season. (Animated series like The Simpsons at 32 seasons and variety programs like Saturday Night Live and the talk shows are exceptions, of course.) But the Emmy shift away from the broadcast networks is also a well-documented phenomenon that accelerated over the past decade. We know the stats: In 2010, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox garnered a combined 215 nominations; last year, it was 121.
Among primetime scripted series, only three entries received five or more nominations last year, and they were all on NBC: The Good Place, This Is Us and Will & Grace. And ultimately, the only broadcast programs to win multiple Emmys were either out of primetime (Saturday Night Live) or specials (Live in Front of a Studio Audience and the Oscars).
The problem for the broadcasters is twofold. First, they collectively appear to have just one live-action primetime scripted series at the moment with any Emmy mojo, and its This Is Us which will end its run next year, after six seasons. But second, the biggest network trend coming out of this years upfront presentations franchise mania wont help when it comes to awards. Broadcasters are smartly leaning on expansive brands like the Law & Order, Chicago, FBI, NCIS and 9-1-1 worlds, and those lend themselves to longevity but not to awards.
Pundits are constantly wondering how to incorporate the broadcasters back into the Emmys fold. Just as the Oscars struggle with how to recognize fan-friendly films (and briefly introduced an ill-fated blockbuster category), the Emmys also have seen viewership fall as TV splinters into multiple niche offerings. In radio, songs that continue to get spins months or even years after release are put in a special category, recurrents. Perhaps theres a way for Emmy to recognize those workhorses TVs recurrents. A category where long-running shows get their due could be fun, and give a bit of attention to the SVUs and Greys of the world.
Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith