For the first time, a series that transcends traditional networks and cable television will win the Emmy for Drama Series, prophesizes Jim McKairnes, the Verizon Chair for Global Broadband and Telecommunications at the Temple University School of Media and Communication.
The headlines following the Sept. 22 awards will scream that television has changed forever after Netflix and House of Cards take some of the top prizes, the former CBS programming executive says. But it will happen, in part, because Emmy voters tend to support the best storyline for their craft.
While McKairnes lauds the quality of House of Cards, he believes the show will win because, “it’s a great story. What we were always encouraged to do at CBS, and I think it’s across the board, is to go beyond coverage on the TV pages; you want coverage on the front pages. Netflix and House of Cards is the story of the year. It’s as though a movie made itself or was made on a cell phone and ended up being the biggest movie of the year. How can you not get caught up in that?”
He says the Emmys are as much an “award” show as a “reward” show. “There is a feeling out there to reward those who think outside the box, which is Netflix and House of Cards,” he says.
McKairnes wavered momentarily on his choice for the best drama series, since the past few weeks have been filled with tons of press about the last season of Breaking Bad, including word that it had been named the highest rated show ever on television.
“As we count down to the end of Breaking Bad, there’s been an uptick in sentiment and ecstasy around the series, although much of it has come after the Emmy voting deadline,” he says. “I wonder if that will now play more of a role next year when it’s eligible for its final season.”
McKairnes notes that there will likely be a percentage of voters who turned their noses up at House of Cards to say, “Let’s not give an award to a show that’s not even in our business. The win would be a smack against traditional television.”
Do Emmys matter?
McKairnes says the era of Emmy wins translating to higher ratings and increase revenue has long passed.
“These days,” he says, “it matters primarily in terms of ego and appearance.”
He points to the “Emmy darlings” of the past decade, like Malcolm in the Middle, Arrested Development and My Name is Earl, which never saw high ratings numbers.
But even though the resulting buzz may be a thing of the past, McKairnes said, “I think the voters, for the most part, take their jobs very seriously and they want to acknowledge excellence. In the end, I think the Emmy Awards represent the best of television.”