Who Benefits If the Emmy's Split the TV Movie/Mini-Series Category?

A proposed split by Emmy voters of the Made For TV Movie/Mini-Series category could mean a big windfall for many networks as they all try to find a way to one up perennial winner HBO

Jan 18, 2014 at 8:42AM

TVLine.com recently was the first to report that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences were considering separating the Emmy award for "Outstanding Made for TV Movie/Mini-Series" back into two categories. The unification of the categories came in 2011 following two consecutive years with just two qualifying nominees.

However in the years since, television has embraced the short form/mini-series concept, thanks in large part to the success of History Channel's Hatfields & McCoys and FX's American Horror Story. As a result, networks have ramped up mini-series production to a new and exciting level, causing the category to balloon with a number of worthwhile contenders.

Should the Academy decide to go through with its idea, it could prove to be a financial windfall for a number of media companies who all of sudden will have another viable way to score TV's top prize.

HBO

Since 1993, HBO (a subsidiary of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)) has owned the "Made For TV Movie" category. In fact, you can count the number of times they've lost the award on one hand. It eventually even became a question of which HBO film would win, especially in 2001 when the network had four of the five nominated movies! Now with the categories merged, HBO has won two of the three years, with their lone defeat coming at the hands of smash hit Downton Abbey (which then switched over to the "Drama" field soon after).

True Detective Hbo Air Date

"True Detective" airs on HBO. (Credit: HBO)

Impact on network: This would be a case of the rich getting richer!  Adding the extra category could net HBO even more hardware and prestige, not to mention subscribers.

Last week the network launched anthology series True Detective, which like FX's American Horror Story, is a project where every season is a self-contained story. With that factor in place, the critically acclaimed Detective qualifies as a mini-series and thus should be eligible to compete as one.

If the category switch happens, that would position HBO as a frontrunner in both categories as its upcoming adaptation of The Normal Heart is already expected to run the table at this year's awards. Other networks would love to get their mini-series out of the way of that movie.

HBO already blows away the competition with its quality programming and adding an anthology mini-series to its roster with big names (such as Detective's Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) will only help add more subscribers. Even with Showtime finally coming into its own as premium source of strong original content, HBO is still widely seen as the frontrunner in its field. Owning both categories would put it even further ahead in the mind of viewers and analysts.

FX

FX (a subsidiary of Newscorp (NASDAQ:NWS)) also has a lot to gain if the Academy moves forward with its plans. Until now its popular American Horror Story franchise has been nominated for 34 Emmy awards (17 for each season), but both times was defeated for the top prize by a HBO powerhouse made-for-TV movie -- Game Change or Behind The Candelabra. The change would allow this season's entry, American Horror Story: Coven, a real chance to come out on top.

American

"American Horror Story: Coven" airs on FX. (Credit: FX)

FX also is set to debut its TV series adaptation of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's Oscar-winning movie Fargo this April, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman. Like Horror, this would be an anthology series and presumed eligible.

Impact on network: FX has helped pioneer the mini-series craze and it has invested a lot of time and money into its success. If the Academy makes the change, it would affect FX the most. Going up against one of HBO's renowned made-for-TV movies often seems like a Herculean task. The move would even the odds a little.

Remember, unlike HBO, which utilizes a subscription format to make money, FX relies more heavily on ratings and Horror has helped in that category. The series has been one of TV's most refreshing projects and that has translated into more viewers and, in turn, higher costs for advertisers. Taking home that top prize would boost its potential revenue and continue to add to its roster of top original programming.

Broadcast Networks

While cable will see the biggest bounce, you can't count out the broadcast networks. All of the Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) have recently committed to the new mini-series craze and each could present a challenge to the crown. Like FX, the broadcast networks depend on ratings, especially in the all-important 18-49 demographic, which have seen a positive response to mini-series events.

Impact on networks: In the short term, the network that would be most affected by the move is Fox. This would be a big deal for the company as it had made it a point to bring back "event TV" and make it a large part of its business model for 2014. In fact, it actually has three event mini-series lined up for this summer, including Gracepoint, the U.S. adaptation of the hit BBC series Broadchurch, as well as M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines, and of course the return of Kiefer Sutherland's powerhouse 24 franchise.

All three would be considered contenders should the categories split as the network is banking on them to help with summer sweeps periods. With the ability to compete in a separate category, Fox would likely increase their marketing and promotional efforts as it presents them with a real opportunity to break out from their competition and boost both their ratings and revenue.

Overall it looks highly likely the Academy will vote to go through with the separation (as early as this year), which would be welcomed by seemingly all parties, including viewers. Audiences have really responded to this format and they would probably see this change as a sign the Academy is listening to them, which in turn drives attention back to the programming on the contending networks.

However, it's important to note this only applies to the overall "Made-for-TV Movie/Mini-Series" category; the categories honoring the actors in those productions would stay merged ... after all it's already a three-hour award show as it is!

The next step

Want to figure out how to profit on business analysis like this? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal-finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even gives you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Fool contributor Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers