'Game of Thrones'' Season 7 Delay Opens Up 2017 Emmy Race

Game of Thrones S6 Still 4 H 2016
Courtesy of HBO

Voters may still be digesting the nominations for the 2016 Emmys, but there's already big news for next year's race. Monday's official word about Game of Thrones' longer-than-typical production hiatus means the show can't compete for Emmy gold in 2017.  

HBO confirmed that the seventh season of Thrones won't premiere until next summer. That means the series, the most-nominated TV project for several years running and the reigning winner in the best drama race, will be taking a year off at the TV kudos. No official date was announced for the return, but Thrones was barely airing in the eligibility window to begin with. To compete for this year's Emmys, six episodes of a comedy or drama series had to air between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. The sixth episode of Thrones' nominated season aired May 29.

Thrones has proven to be a perennial favorite among Emmy voters. The formidable show received a total 23 nominations this year and its closest competition, FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (22) and Fargo (18), aren't even in the drama race. The delay is not unheard of, but the Emmy absence is rather rare. Even when contract negotiations stalled the fifth season of Mad Men and the AMC show went off the air for a year and a half, the drama never missed a year of eligibility with the TV Academy.

The HBO drama's disappearance from the 2017 race comes during some rare changeover in the main category. The 2015 end of Mad Men and Orange Is the New Black's apparent falling out of favor with voters brought two open slots this year — filled by USA drama Mr. Robot and a first-time nom for FX's The Americans.

No matter what, the delay is sure to sting HBO's overall nominations tally. The pay cable outfit has long ranked the most-nominated network at TV's top awards. This year's tally is 94 nominations, 38 more than its closest competition (FX). HBO's rundown is already significantly lower than last year, when it was up for 126 nominations. (It led wins with 43 for the network.)

As for a possible network replacement, fall debut Westworld is currently the only new drama on the immediate horizon. David Simon's The Deuce has yet to be dated and everything else will likely fall into the limited race. There's still the final season of The Leftovers, set for an early 2017 return, but it hasn't made any Emmy impression during its first two seasons.