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The Emmys 2015 show a TV business in transition, with broadcast networks left in the cold

Viola Davis poses with her Emmy on Sunday night.
Viola Davis poses with her Emmy on Sunday night.
Mark Davis/Getty Images

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The Emmys telecast may have aired on a broadcast network (Fox, to be exact), and the Emmys host Andy Samberg may be a star of one of that network's comedies ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), but take away those details and there wasn't a whole lot of broadcast TV representation at the Emmys.

Only four awards went to shows or actors from broadcast networks: NBC's "The Voice" won for Outstanding Reality Series; Allison Janney won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the CBS show "Mom"; Viola Davis won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder"; and Regina King won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for ABC's "American Crime."

Add to that the fact that many of the shows that did win can be watched without a cable subscription and you find the TV Academy looking at a business in flux. 

("Transparent" is on Amazon; "Orange is the New Black" is on Netflix; "Inside Amy Schumer" is on; and until "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" show up on HBO Now, just borrow someone's HBO Go login. Samberg said HBO doesn't care.)

Andy Greenwald from tells "The Frame" that the TV industry seems "a little uncomfortable with the future that's coming, with streaming and on-demand options." Nowhere in the telecast was that more evident than when the show ran an "In Memoriam"-type tribute montage to series that ended their run in 2015. The montage was essentially comprised of spoilers for shows like "Mad Men" and "Justified" that many people still hope to see. 

[It] almost went out of its way to peevishly spoil a great number of beloved dramas from the past few years. And that seemed to me so tone-deaf and almost openly hostile to the way audiences watch TV. As if, if you weren't watching those shows in the moment when they aired, you would never have another chance to. When in fact, they just spoiled the ending for people who [will] be discovering these shows for 10, 15, 20 years into the future.

The show opened by acknowledging how many great shows are out there right now.

Opening Emmys video

Other issues facing the TV business and Hollywood at-large that were highlighted on the Emmys include racial and ethnic diversity on- and off-camera, and gender equity across the board.

Ever wonder why so many awards for writing and directing go to men? Well, that's because most of the writing and directing in Hollywood is done by men. Samberg even brought it up in his opening monologue:

The wage gap between men and women hired for major roles in Hollywood is still an issue. Wait, I'm sorry, I misread that. The age gap between men and women hired for major roles in Hollywood is still an issue. Wait I'm sorry, I misread it again. It's both. Still both.

Andy Samberg opening monologue

By the night's end, there were two women directors who made cracks in the status quo.

"It was very noteworthy that Jill Soloway won for directing a comedy series and that Lisa Cholodenko won for directing 'Olive Kitteridge,'" Greenwald said. "These are great steps in the right direction."

Jill Soloway acceptance speech

And when Davis took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for her work on "How to Get Away with Murder," not only was history made — she became the first African-American actress to win this honor — but she highlighted an "essential problem" in the entertainment business.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis said. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

Viola Davis acceptance speech

Greenwald said Davis' speech was the "headliner of the evening," but that Regina King winning for "American Crime" was just as moving. 

Because it was sort of Viola Davis' words in practice. Regina King has been acting on TV in many things since she was a teenager on '227.' She's been perfectly fine — and quite good — in many things from '24' to 'Southland.' But until 'American Crime,' she's never really had the opportunity to be great."

Regina King acceptance speech

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that only two Emmys went to shows or actors from broadcast networks.

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