How Netflix Will Shake Up the Emmy Race

Netflix Emmy Race - H 2013

Netflix Emmy Race - H 2013

The digital giant's "House of Cards" will look to topple top dramas amid a new infusion of stiff competition.

This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

With the Oscars barely a month in Hollywood's rearview mirror, the freshman class of Emmy contenders already is coming into focus.

The buzziest new entry in a contentious drama race is Netflix's House of Cards, which could become the first nominee to debut on a digital platform. Stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright likely will get a strong push, especially because voters tend to favor movie stars' forays on the small screen. (See Kevin Costner's and Julianne Moore's 2012 wins for Hatfields & McCoys and Game Change, respectively.) Netflix also will support its one-off reboot of Fox's cult comedy Arrested Development, which bows just before eligibility ends May 31 (phase 1 ballots are due June 28; the telecast airs Sept. 22 on CBS).

But new competition from the broadcast networks could make things interesting. Fox has a promising drama in Kevin Williamson's gory serial-killer thriller The Following, starring Kevin Bacon, as well as The Mindy Project, a Universal Television comedy that earned a WGA nom for star Mindy Kaling. Like Girls' 2012 triple-nominee Lena Dunham, Kaling is her series' creator, main writer and star.

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Emmy's hottest new prospect at ABC is Nashville, which features Globe nominee Connie Britton, who earned consecutive Emmy noms for Friday Night Lights. As NBC says goodbye to Emmy stalwarts The Office and 30 Rock, it has a new friend in previous nominee Matthew Perry for Go On.

CBS Studios is prioritizing its modern-day Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary -- specifically, Jonny Lee Miller for lead actor -- in addition to The Good Wife, which last year was snubbed in the series category. "We want to make sure it's no mystery why Elementary and its lead actors are turning heads," says CBS representative Lauri Metrose.

HBO will push Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom (plus Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire) in an attempt to dethrone Showtime's Homeland. And basic cable has several new drama prospects, including FX's The Americans, History's Vikings, BBC America's Orphan Black, DirecTV's Rogue and A&E's Psycho prequel, Bates Motel, which boasts Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga. Says Bob DeBitetto, president and GM of A&E, "We see Bates as a contender in multiple categories."

Of course, the newbies will have fierce competition from returning nominees such as four-time winner Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Some insiders believe Vince Gilligan's never-lauded AMC drama -- whose final episodes bow in August, just as voters make their final picks -- could have an early edge.