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Value Betting on the 2019 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Aug/01/2019

We’ve already looked at the Emmy Awards for ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ along with the top two drama acting awards.  In a previous article, we talked about the ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ category and now we’ll move into the comedy acting awards starting with ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series’. 

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Looking at the ‘Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series’ prices in the Emmy Awards betting odds at BetOnline.ag and you’ll immediately see that we’ve got a big favorite in this category.  Defending ‘Outstanding Comedy Actor’ winner and Barry star Bill Hader is priced at -900.  He’s got a good chance of repeating—in fact, he’s going to be tougher to beat than the ‘Outstanding Comedy Actress’ favorite Julia-Louis Dreyfus who is a -1000 favorite for her role on Veep.  Even with his strong chances there’s just no value in betting him at -900 which represents a 90% implied probability.  We’d rather take a shot on some of the actors that could beat him under certain scenarios and available at much better prices.

In our introductory ‘Fundamentals of Value Betting on the Emmy Awards’ article we reviewed the awards’ nominating and voting process.  This process is dramatically different than the one used for the Oscar awards.  It’s also a significant component of why looking for value priced underdogs is much more effective with the Emmy Awards than with the Oscars.  The Emmys have each specialized group within the membership of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) nominate and vote on their own area of expertise.  In other words, sound men vote for sound men, lighting directors vote for lightning directors, etc.  Most importantly for our purposes here, actors vote for actors in the relevant categories.  In the Oscars, nominations are determined in the individual award categories by the ‘specialists’ within the membership.  For the final voting to determine the awards, however, the entire membership votes on all categories which makes the entire dynamic different.

Another interesting component of the Emmy voting process is that for the individual awards the ‘representative body of work’ is chosen by the nominees themselves.  This means that the six nominees in this category will select what they feel is their best work of the year.  While this could be significant for handicapping purposes, the information isn’t made public.  For his part, category favorite Hader isn’t too concerned on whether he wins or loses:

“I’m not the biggest fan of that kind of competition thing. Just, competing in art in general I find very strange. I’ve been doing a lot of interviews today, and a couple people are like, ‘Hey, you’ve got some tough competition in this or that,’ and I’m just like, these are all great shows. I feel crazy honored to be [nominated with them]. I mean, I thought ‘Fleabag’ was one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. I think Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] is a genius. And Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are two of my idols. I wouldn’t be doing what I’ve been doing if it wasn’t for their work. So, why would I be competitive with them? It’s not sports.”

COULD THERE BE AN UPSET WINNER IN THE ‘OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES’ CATEGORY?

The above quote could be important for a couple of reasons.  Would Hader submit something other than his best work in an interest of being ‘non-competitive’?  More significant might be the reaction of the voters to a comment like this.  Hader has already won once so it’s not like he’s already established himself as a ‘legacy’ winner.  There are any number of ways that this type of comment could be interpreted and particularly taken out of context.  Voters could find it arrogant and presumptuous as if Hader is assuming he’ll win.  It could come off as being unappreciative of his ATAS ‘seal of approval’ with his 2018 win.  It could also encourage voters to cast a ballot for Eugene Levy, who already has a good deal of support for his role as Johnny Rose in Schitt’s Creek.  As a corollary to this, it could be seen as a magnanimous effort by Hader to get awards for ‘legends’ like Levy and O’Hara and/or work he feels might be underappreciated like Fleabag.  It could also not mean anything and be dismissed as the kind of thing an actor says when he’s out ‘doing media’ and wanting to sound humble.

Interesting to note that Eugene Levy is not the only highly respected longtime performer though he is certainly the most likely to appeal to voters.  Levy has two Emmy wins for writing on the SCTV television show in 1982 and 1983 but a win here would be his first win in first time nominated for performing.  Ted Danson has been a fixture on television for decades and although Cheers is one of the most critically acclaimed and decorated shows in history he only won twice for his portrayal of Sam Malone despite being nominated 11 times.  You can make a compelling case that his work has been underappreciated by ATAS but the academy would likely see the 13 total nominations as it’s own form of appreciation.  Michael Douglas has a career total of 7 nominations with 1 win but this is his first for ‘lead comedy acting’.  He got his win in 2013 for his portrayal of Liberace in the HBO TV movie Behind the Candelabra.  He has the not insignificant corporate support of Netflix behind his bid but if the voters are going for the ‘award the legend’ angle Levy will be the beneficiary.

Simply put, the price on Levy available at BetOnline.ag is just too good to pass up.  He’s got the longest odds in the field and he very well might be the second most likely to win.  At +3300, his implied probability is just under 3% (2.9) and he’s got a much better shot than that.  He’s the definition of an ‘overlay’ and win or lose he’s the best value on the betting board.

BET EUGENE LEVY +3300 TO WIN THE EMMY AWARD FOR ‘OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES’

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