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Broadcast TV makes rebound in Emmy noms

Networks see a bit of a surge after years of cable gains

Broadcast networks had reason to cheer in terms of major Emmy series category nominations after more than a decade watching pay TV and basic cable make inroads at their expense.

"I would say there definitely has been a rebound, or a surge, in your broadcast nominations this year just looking at the two premiere categories -- comedy and drama," said John Leverence, senior vp awards at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

It may not be a dramatic change, but after years of erosion, it was good news for broadcasters, who overall had 247 nominations compared with 240 for cable and pay TV outlets. Broadcasters would have had two more had NBC not let "Friday Night Lights" play first on DirecTV, which received credit for the show's two noms.

"NBC dumped 'Friday Night Lights' just at the wrong time," Leverence said.

 

Still, there was little question about who would get the most. It was HBO for the 10th year in a row, this time amassing 101 noms, two more than in 2009. That included 24 for the miniseries "The Pacific," one more than for its 2008 mini "John Adams." HBO's biggest previous year was 124 mentions in 2004.

About half of all HBO noms came from miniseries and made-fors -- categories in which broadcasters no longer compete.

"The networks are basically in an abbreviated mode vis-a-vis what HBO is doing," Leverence said. "If they weren't in that longform business, then you would have kind of series parity."

After several years in which basic cable made strong gains, this year presented a mixed message. Lifetime grabbed 11 noms, much better than its previous high of six in 2006. AMC rose from 23 last year to 26, and Discovery doubled its year-over-year output to 14.

However, Bravo dropped from 11 to six, Comedy Central fell from 13 to 8, TNT went from 10 to 3 and FX dipped from 11 to 9.