HBO Towers Over Streaming Upstarts at Emmys

Reuters

Premium cable network HBO dominated television's Emmy awards on Sunday with trophies for best comedy "Veep" and best drama "Game of Thrones," holding off challenges from the digital upstarts that have shaken up traditional Hollywood.

HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, topped all networks and their streaming competitors with a total of 43 awards. It was the first time in 13 years a network won both the drama and comedy series honors.

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Online retailer Amazon.com shared the Emmy stage, taking five awards for groundbreaking transgender series "Transparent," including best actor for Jeffrey Tambor. Streaming pioneer Netflix earned four Emmys, with Uzo Aduba named best supporting drama actress for playing "Crazy Eyes" on the dark prison series "Orange is the New Black."

Emmy awards bring prestige to networks and can boost viewership, which increases advertising revenue for channels that run commercials. For pay-cable channels and online subscription services, the recognition can help win new customers in today's crowded TV landscape.

The awards will be particularly valuable for the streaming services that are attracting "cord cutters" who have dropped cable subscriptions.

"It's major marketing cred for them," said Peter Csathy, chief executive of Mannatt Digital Media, a business consulting and legal services firm. "It underscores to the entire industry how much has changed in the last few years."

The digital outlets have set off a revolution online, with entire seasons available for binge viewing on TVs, mobile phones and tablets. HBO this year launched its own online-only service. The high quality of shows on Amazon and Netflix, which plunged into original programming just two years ago, has provided HBO with competition for A-list talent.

But HBO, which has scored the most Emmy nominations for each of the past 15 years, showed it is still a force. "Game of Thrones," an ambitious medieval fantasy drama, was the most honored program with 12 trophies, while limited series "Olive Kitteridge" won eight.

"Thanks again HBO for believing in dragons!" "Game of Thrones" co-creator David Benioff said on stage.

"It was the only place we could imagine this show really working," he told reporters backstage.

On basic cable, Viacom's Comedy Central grabbed eight awards. Its "Inside Amy Schumer" was named best variety sketch show.

Among broadcasters, Comcast's NBC led with 12 awards including best reality competition show for "The Voice." Walt Disney's ABC won six, and CBS and Fox had four each.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler)