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The Emmys are HBO vs. Netflix — and quantity vs. quality — once again

Regina King in Watchmen and Jason Bateman in Ozark
Regina King in HBO's "Watchmen," and Jason Bateman in Netflix's "Ozark" — two strong Emmy-nominated shows. (Image credit: HBO/Netflix)
The 72nd Emmy Awards

WHEN: Sept. 20, 2020.

WHERE: We don't yet know. It'll likely be remote, but nobody's saying yet.

THE HOST: Jimmy Kimmel has the gig again.

ON TV: Watch it on ABC.

Sure, it's an honor to be nominated for the 72nd annual Emmy Awards. Nobody is denying that. But in a world in which there's more content than ever for viewers to sift through, it's interesting to see just where the nominees went for 2020. 

Netflix led the overall nominations this year (you can see the full list here) with 160, a 36 percent increase from 2019's 118 nominations. ABC added another 10 from 2019's total of 26 for a 38 percent increase. And Hulu increased its total number of nominations by 30 percent, from 20 to 26. 

But in a year in the first since post-Game of Thrones, HBO saw its total number of nominations drop by one-fifth, down to 107 from 137. Amazon fell even further, down from 47 in 2019 to 30 this year — a change of 36 percent.

The total number of nominations doesn't necessarily mean a dearth of quality however, or that the pool is diluted. HBO's Watchman was easily one of the best series of the year — and that was before the George Floyd killing and protests made its commentary on racism and history even more salient.

In all, some 21 HBO shows were nominated. 

Watchmen has more nominations (26) than any other single show. That includes nominations for Jeremy Irons, Regina King and Jean Smart, three for directing (Nicole Kassell, Steph Green and Stephen Williams), three for supporting actor in a limited series (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jovan Adepo and Louis Gossett Jr., and a writing nomination for Jesse Armstrong.

HBO also has Succession, whose 18 nominations includes two for lead actor in a drama series (Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong), three for supporting actor (Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfayden), writing for Armstrong, directing for Android Parekh and Mark Mylod, guest actress for Harriet Walter and Cherry Jones, guest actor for James Cromwell, and supporting actress for Sarah Snook.

Netflix definitely saw the love spread around a little more, with 52 shows earning nominations. The Crown, Hollywood and Ozark all were strong (and completely expected) multiple nominees. The Michelle Obama documentary Becoming scored four nods, including one for outstanding documentary or nonfiction special.