Starz’s Chris Albrecht On Lack Of Emmy Recognition: “It’s Not Even Playing Field’


Starz has been catching up on (and sometime surpassing) Showtime in the number of subscribers during the past year. But when it comes to Emmy recognition, the network still lags far behind premium cable rivals HBO and Showtime. Following another disappointing Emmy nominations cycle where all of Starz’s top contenders — Outlander, Power, Survivor’s Remorse and The Girlfriends Experience — were snubbed, CEO Chris Albrecht was asked to address the lack of Emmy love for the network’s series.

He was not surprised. “I don’t think they’ll ever break through,” he said about the Starz shows Monday at TCA. He pointed to his lengthy experience going back to HBO, which under him broke into the Emmy winner’s circle with such shows as The Sopranos and Sex and the City. 

“I was part of the team that invented how to campaign for Emmys,” Albrecht said. “Trust me, it’s not an even playing field. …I spent years inside the TV Academy, working it. It takes a lot of money.”

The Sopranos

After the panel, Albrecht brought up the big disappointment when the TV Academy failed to properly recognize The Sopranos, the hottest show on television and a pop culture phenomenon, for its first season. “They weren’t ready,” Albrecht told Deadline.

“The Emmys are not a valid marker for the quality of a show,” he said.

Albrecht indicated that the TV Academy is not doing enough to broaden its reach. “It’s a very distinct group of people no matter how they try to expand their membership base,” he said. “I think the TV Academy should be celebrating the unprecedented time in our industry; they should be finding a way to platform the diversity, to have something that reflects this expansion.

The TV Academy has expanded the number of nominees in the top categories, over the past few years. That could go further with the continuous explosion of original scripted programming on all platforms, according to Albrecht. “With the sheer number of shows we have a continually reductive process that results in a longer list of losers and the same number of winners,” he said.

That will change, and a Starz show will eventually break through. (The network has fared better at the Golden Globes, including a win for Kesley Grammer on Boss.)

“There will be a show that will come along, it won’t be a better reason (then the current Starz series), it will be a reason,” Albrecht said, stressing that “we couldn’t be more proud of the work that is being done on (our) shows, they are award-worthy, whether it’s an Emmy Award or not is not the point.”

Taking a more philosophical approach to the cut-throat award races, Albrecht wrapped his thoughts on the subject with, “This is all silly.”

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