Macall B. Polay // HBO
On July 2, 1928, the first commercially licensed television station in the United States, W3XK, began broadcasting. Though it took some time for the public to catch on to the exciting new medium, television has since become an instrumental part of life for most Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 80% of Americans watch television daily, with the average American spending two hours and 47 minutes of their day in front of the "idiot box."
Many Americans watch TV to keep up with the news, while others root for their favorite sports teams. For as long as there's been broadcast television, however, there have been scripted dramas, comedies, and documentary series to entertain and inform viewers. These programs are recognized chiefly by the Emmy Awards, which have been given out every year since 1949. Though Regional and Daytime Emmys are given out to shows that meet those respective requirements, the most cultural discussion takes place around the Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys, which highlight outstanding achievements in the most-watched television programs.
The Primetime Emmys award achievement in overall series quality, lead and supporting acting, directing, and writing. The Creative Arts Emmys recognize achievement in more technical fields, such as costumes, makeup, and special effects, as well as alternative programming such as documentaries and variety shows. Despite the many categories, an Emmy win is a lifelong goal for many Hollywood stars, forming the "E" in "EGOT," or the lifetime achievement of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.
Looking at the following list, it's clear to see several distinct eras emerging, from the long-running sitcoms of the '80s and '90s to the new golden age of television ushered in by the "Sopranos" and other premium programming. As streaming services like Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video join HBO in spending exorbitant sums on new content, it remains to be seen where television will go in the coming decade.
To generate a list of the most awarded television shows of all time, according to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which administers the Emmy awards, Stacker rounded up the top 25 Emmy-winning shows using the Emmys database. All drama, comedy, competition, variety, and limited series were considered, and shows were ranked by the number of Emmy wins, with ties broken by the number of nominations.
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