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How last night's Emmys changed the future of award shows

Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi and Alexis Christoforous recap the first ever virtual Emmy awards with Michael Schneider, Variety Senior Editor.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: It was a groundbreaking weekend in the world of TV. The first virtual Emmy Awards took place last night, making it the first major award show to successfully pull out of a-- pull off a socially-distanced online ceremony in this COVID-19 era. Let's bring in Michael Schneider to recap the night. He's the senior TV editor at "Variety." Michael, to me, it was a-- it looked pretty cool visually.

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, they did a great job, I got to say. You know, the producers were hoping for a trainwreck, and I don't know if they got it. It actually went smoother than I think anyone expected. It was a well done show.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Do you think we're going to see more awards shows done this way? Was this sort of like, you know, the litmus test to see if it can happen successfully? And now, you know, we don't know when we're going to be coming out of this pandemic and back to normal again, so are we going to see more of this? Maybe the-- maybe the Academy Awards goes virtual.

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, yeah, this is the template. I mean, along the way, we've seen these kind of shows evolve. You know, early on, it was all about the Zoom TV. But the producers of this show said very specifically, we don't want to do the Zoomies, and they didn't. So I think there's definitely a bit more of what you're going to see in the future, probably all the way up to the Oscars, which, like the Emmys last night, will be on ABC. So a lot of the same folks will be behind that.

BRIAN SOZZI: Are there-- were there certain components, Michael, to-- to what we saw last night that may be around in-- in awards shows for years to come, like permanent fixtures that we might see on TV?

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: I-- I do think there'll be a lot of cases now where people won't feel the need to fly into Los Angeles if they're overseas. Say, if they're in London or Berlin, maybe they don't need to go all the way to America to-- to participate in an award show. You could do more things virtual like that. So-- so I think definitely you'll see some of these elements continue long after. Who knows how long it'll be until people feel really comfortable being in the same room again, but I-- I do think some of this is now just the way we produce TV and the way we live.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I especially liked that they used some of the-- some front line workers and everyday folks to introduce some of the categories. I thought that was a nice touch. But I want to talk about some of the big winners. We thought "Schitt's Creek" was going to be a big winner going into the night, but, oh my goodness, they swept every major comedy category. Were you surprised by that?

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, I knew it would do well, but that was history-making. They won all seven comedy awards that were awarded last night. That's never happened ever. I mean, shows like "All in the Family" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" have come close, but no show has ever done all of that. They won every major comedy acting award. They won Best Comedy, Directing, Writing. It was a historic night for a little show out of Canada that no one had even heard of a couple of years ago. Now it's the darling of the Emmys. Pretty amazing.

BRIAN SOZZI: And also, Michael, HBO led the way too. Is there any read-through from their wins last night on-- on how successful HBO Max might be?

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: A little bit. I mean, obviously, all that HBO content is available on HBO Max, and-- and that was Warner Media's goal in branding their streaming service HBO Max was to lead into that brand promise. And, you know, HBO doesn't have the kind of volume that Netflix has, and-- and their sort of statement on that is, OK, we don't have the volume. Netflix is always going to beat us on the volume. But as you can see for the Emmys, we still have a quality promise that no one can beat.

Netflix went into the Emmys last night with 160 nominations, more than any other network in history, which is pretty astounding. For HBO to then come back and dominate and the actual wins is a statement that they want to spread, and that'll be a big part of their marketing for HBO Max in the coming months.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, some of the night was also political. Lots of folks talking about the election and getting out and voting. But any other big surprises for you? Because I'll tell you, I thought Jennifer Aniston was a shoo-in for "The Morning Show." I thought Jason Bateman was going to win for "Ozark." Neither of them walked away with a statue.

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER: Yeah, the big surprise, I think, was that Drama Actress category. You mentioned Jennifer Aniston. I mean, that category was stacked with folks like Olivia Coleman, last year's winner Jodie Comer, and-- and so many others. For Zendaya to win, who's a young actress, you know, who-- who's just been doing this for a couple of years, to win is pretty astounding, and-- and also kind of exciting as a young fresh talent to-- to kind of move into the Emmys as well.

There was a little nice balance there. Representation, inclusion very important too. She's the youngest actress to win in that category, but also, you know, one of the only African-Americans who have ever won that category.