Emmys 2021: Netflix tops HBO (by a lot) to win the most awards, a first

Netflix generated 129 Emmy nominations this year, one less than HBO and HBO Max combined. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Netflix and HBO have battled each other for primacy in Emmy nominations for the last five years, with the two trading the title as the most nominated network, studio or streaming service since 2017. But Netflix has never ended the night of the primetime Emmy Awards with the most wins. The closest it came was in 2018, when it tied HBO in the total number of statues. 

That changed Sunday. Netflix won 44 Emmy awards this year, combining the primetime awards handed out during Sunday’s ceremony and the Creative Arts Emmys collected during ceremonies last weekend. It’s the first time Netflix has brought home the most Emmy wins since the company’s programming was first nominated in 2013. 

Netflix’s 44 Emmys are more than the awards won by the next two companies in the ranks, combined. HBO, which combined the awards given to programming on its traditional network and on its streaming service, HBO Max — won 19 total Emmys, with Mare of Easttown and Hacks standing out with multiple wins. HBO was followed by Disney Plus, which won 14 altogether, including one statue Sunday for Hamilton

Apple TV Plus also stood out for the success of Ted Lasso, which won four Emmys including outstanding comedy series and acting statues for lead actor and supporting actor and actress. In total, Apple TV Plus earned 11 Emmys this year.

Reigning as the most Emmy-awarded network or service doesn’t unlock any particular prize other than bragging rights. But with competition continuing to intensify between media companies, dominating the Emmy awards can be important for marketing one service above the rest as the go-to place for the most decorated programming. Services like Netflix and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max — not to mention Disney PlusHuluAmazon Prime and Apple TV Plus too — are all vying for your subscriptions, of course. But commanding the most Emmy wins is alluring to top Hollywood talent too. 

Except for the tie with Netflix in 2018, HBO has been the perennial leader in Emmy wins by network or service. 

The two entered the Emmy season with HBO leading Netflix in nominations, but barely. This year, HBO combined the nomination count for its traditional network with that of streaming service . That generated 130 nods to HBO, just one more than Netflix. 

But before the Primetime Emmys ceremony even started Sunday, Netflix was on track to end the night with the most wins, thanks to a haul of statues last weekend from the Creative Arts Emmys on top of its nominations still outstanding. The earlier ceremonies, which award artistic and technical achievement in television, generated Netflix 34 awards going into Sunday night. HBO secured just 10 then. (Even Disney Plus, which won its first Emmy awards only last year, arrived Sunday with more Creative Arts Emmys to its name than HBO, with 13.)

That math meant Sunday nights ceremony was Netflix’s to lose. But period dramas ruled for Netflix Sunday, with The Crown collecting seven wins, The Queen’s Gambit garnering two awards and Haston pulling in one. 

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