Will British Drama Be Hurt If Emmys Ditch Miniseries Categories?

If the broadcast networks have their way, the Primetime Emmys could cut the movies and miniseries categories from the live telecast moving forward, Variety reports. The big 4 networks are re-negotiating their contracts with the Emmys, and a new deal could mean jettisoning the movies/miniseries awards to the Creative Arts Emmys. Outside of the odd Tom Selleck film or Hallmark Hall of Fame weepie, the major broadcasters don’t air movies or miniseries anymore, relegating the format to the lower-rated PBS and cable networks like HBO. And as Variety reports, many broadcast execs don’t feel that these little-watched programs deserve such a big platform:

…devoting so much time to a handful of minis and movies that have been seen by a fraction of the audience is a momentum killer, they argue, and one reason that the Emmycast isn’t a big viewer draw. “Once those longform awards come on, it’s the death march of boredom,” said one network exec.

And Emmy ratings suggest that viewers agree, [Emmycast exec producer Don] Mischer said.

“When we looked at the minute by minute ratings, they really do drop in longform,” he said. “And longform is some of the best work in television – just unbelievably good work of the highest quality with great artists. But it’s a simple fact that it’s less accessible to viewers.”

But what would this mean for the British costume dramas from Masterpiece Theater? The UK still invests a lot in these formats. Wouldn’t they be hurt if the Emmy broadcast ditches the movie and miniseries categories? Surely, many people were convinced to check out the 2008 adaptation of Little Dorrit on DVD after it won seven Emmy awards, including Best Miniseries, last year. And titles like Emma, Return to Cranford, and David Tennant‘s Hamlet all received much-needed mass exposure on Sunday night’s telecast. What happens if this promotional tool goes away? The impact could be considerable.

One thing’s for sure: without the movies and miniseries categories, the Emmys will be a lot less British. And that’s a shame for us all.

What do you think – should the Emmys drop the miniseries categories? And would it hurt Masterpiece Theater?

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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