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Netflix rules the Emmys, topping HBO as winner of most awards for the first time

Netflix dominated the Emmy awards Sunday, by a lot. Its tally of wins beat the combined total of HBO/HBO Max and Disney Plus, the next two companies after it.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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Netflix generated 129 Emmy nominations this year, one less than HBO and HBO Max combined. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Netflix and HBO have battled each other for primacy in Emmy nominations for the last five years, with the two trading the title as the most nominated network, studio or streaming service since 2017. But Netflix has never ended the night of the primetime Emmy Awards with the most wins. The closest it came was in 2018, when it tied HBO in the total number of statues. 

That changed Sunday. Netflix won 44 Emmy awards this year, combining the primetime awards handed out during Sunday's ceremony and the creative arts Emmys collected during ceremonies last weekend. It's the first time Netflix has brought home the most Emmy wins since the company's programming was first nominated in 2013. 

Netflix's 44 Emmys beat the total number of awards won by the next two companies combined. HBO -- which combined its awards for shows both on its traditional network and on its streaming service, HBO Max -- won 19 total Emmys, with Mare of Easttown and Hacks standing out with multiple wins.

Disney Plus came next with 14 Emmys altogether, including one statue for Hamilton and many for technical achievement handed out at the creative arts Emmys the previous weekend. 

Apple TV Plus also stood out for the success of Ted Lasso, which won four Emmys Sunday and seven total. Besides winning outstanding comedy series, its star, Jason Sudeikis, won the comedic lead actor category, and supporting actors Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein took home statues too -- the first Emmys for all three performers. In total, Apple TV Plus earned 11 Emmys this year. 

Both Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus, which launched within two weeks of each other in 2019, are only in their second year of contention for Emmys. 

Reigning as the most Emmy-awarded network or service doesn't unlock any particular prize other than bragging rights. But with competition continuing to intensify between media companies, dominating the Emmy awards can be important for marketing one service above the rest as the go-to place for the most decorated programming. Services like Netflix and WarnerMedia's HBO Max -- not to mention Disney Plus, HuluAmazon Prime and Apple TV Plus too -- are all vying for your subscriptions, of course. But commanding the most Emmy wins is alluring to top Hollywood talent too. 

Except for the tie with Netflix in 2018, HBO has long been the perennial leader in Emmy wins.

And the two entered the latest Emmy season with HBO leading Netflix in nominations, but barely. This year, HBO combined the Emmy count for its traditional network with that of streaming service. That generated 130 nods to HBO, just one more than for Netflix. 

But before the Primetime Emmys ceremony even started Sunday, Netflix was on track to end the night with the most wins, thanks to a haul of statues last weekend from the creative arts Emmys. The earlier ceremonies, which award artistic and technical achievement in television, generated Netflix 34 awards going into Sunday night. HBO secured just 10 then. (Even Disney Plus, which won its first Emmy awards only last year, arrived night Sunday with more creative arts Emmys to its name than HBO, with 13.)

That math meant Sunday night's ceremony was Netflix's to lose. 

Emmy winners streaming on Netflix now

Period dramas ruled the night for Netflix Sunday. 

The Crown, a drama about the British monarchy that spans the era in which Prince Charles and Diana Spencer met and were married, and The Queen's Gambit, an unexpectedly buzzy limited series about a drug-addicted chess prodigy in the '60s, tied as the most award-winning shows. Each won 11 Emmys, with The Crown winning best drama and a clutch of acting awards and The Queen's Gambit winning best limited series and many creative arts Emmys. 

Fashion drama Halston, which spans three decades in the life of the designer, pulled in one Emmy for lead actor in a drama series. 

Of the Netflix shows that won other Emmys prior to Sunday night's primetime ceremony, short-form animated anthology series Love, Death + Robots won three statues; music/comedy special Bo Burnham: Inside also won three; and documentary David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet won three as well. Musical holiday special Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square won two, as did The Social Dilemma, a documentary film about the dangerous effects of social media.

Although Netflix didn't create or release Pose, the FX drama's first two seasons are licensed to stream by Netflix and are available to watch there now. It won three Emmys this year. 

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