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Apple’s ‘Ted Lasso’ Emmy Wins Give Boost to Streaming Strategy

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·3-min read
Apple’s ‘Ted Lasso’ Emmy Wins Give Boost to Streaming Strategy
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(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s “Ted Lasso,” a show about a U.S. football coach who moves to England to lead a soccer team, was crowned television’s best comedy, a breakthrough for the giant tech company’s efforts to build its Apple TV+ service.

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In addition to best comedy, the show’s star and co-creator, Jason Sudeikis, won best comedy actor. Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein nabbed awards for best supporting actress and actor for their work in the series. Jean Smart was voted best actress in a comedy for her work in “Hacks” on HBO Max.

Many Hollywood figures have expressed skepticism about Apple’s foray into entertainment. It hasn’t acquired a catalog of shows to fill out its library for Apple TV+, and it has been wary of igniting controversy with its programs. Yet the company is dominating one category at the TV industry’s biggest annual gala less than two years after introducing the service.

Sudeikis plays a college football coach who takes over a Premier League soccer team. Waddingham portrays a scheming team owner and Goldstein a once-star player who is past his prime. Both Waddingham and Goldstein were relative unknowns in Hollywood before the show, an uplifting comedy that struck a chord with viewers and critics during the dark days of the pandemic.

The 73rd Emmy Awards shaped up as a major battleground for a new generation of streaming services, with shows produced by AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Apple and Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+ competing with Netflix Inc., the leader in streaming.

The awards, handed out by the Television Academy, are considered the highest honors in the TV business. The annual show isn’t watched by as many people as the Oscars or the Grammys, and awards programs in general have been losing viewers in recent years. Still, wins can provide a publicity boost, particularly for new services looking to acquire subscribers and attract talent.

Comedian Cedric the Entertainer is hosting the show, which is airing live on both CBS and Paramount+. The academy is putting on an in-person ceremony at the L.A. Live entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. Last year, the academy held a smaller ceremony, delivering the statuettes to winners at their homes.

“They said this was outdoors; it’s not,” actor Seth Rogen joked in presenting the first award. “Why is there a roof? It’s more important we have chandeliers than we make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy.”

“Ted Lasso” was nominated for 20 Emmys, the most ever for a first-year comedy, and was the favorite to capture best comedy series. The show is Apple’s first big breakout hit in terms of critical plaudits, social media conversation and industry prestige, and the wins Sunday night should drive more customers to Apple TV+, the iPhone maker’s paid streaming service. Produced by Warner Bros.’ TV studio, “Ted Lasso” just concluded its second season and has been renewed for at least one more.

(Updates with top comedy win in the first graph.)

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