Emmys: Why the Reality Competition Race Is (Finally!) Not Too Predictable

Michele Crowe/CBS
'The Amazing Race' has received noms since the competition category launched in 2003.

While 'The Amazing Race' once dominated the category, 'The Voice' broke its streak with consecutive wins in 2015 and '16 — and now the honor could go to nearly any show that's nominated.

The Emmy race for outstanding reality competition program used to run like a Swiss watch.

Six series would be nominated, an assortment of usual suspects (CBS' Survivor, Fox's American Idol) among them, and come the big night, the prize would always go to CBS stalwart The Amazing Race. Producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Bertram van Munster offered perfected pageant waves, and the gang would all come back the following year with the assumption of a repeat.

It was a streak that essentially lasted a decade before The Voice finally quashed it with consecutive wins in 2015 and 2016. Frontrunner status in the once-locked category now belongs to Mark Burnett's NBC singing competition, and the field has finally opened up to more than just legacy shows.

In 2016, NBC's American Ninja Warrior swiped a slot from Fox's aging So You Think You Can Dance. In 2017, ABC's Dancing With the Stars (even longer in the tooth) saw its perennial nom go to VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race

So just because voters keep Amazing Race in contention, and standbys Top Chef (Bravo's one-off winner in 2010) and Lifetime's Project Runway are still in the game, doesn't mean the TV Academy is as predictable as it once was.

This year's top competition honor could go to nearly any show — now that's a truly amazing race.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.