Value Betting on the Emmy Awards: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

In this article we’ll look at the ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series’ Emmy Award category.  In a previous article, we talked about the ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ category and ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series’.  We’ve also hit the ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ and the two major drama acting awards.  This will be our last Emmy Award preview until odds are posted on additional categories as the presentation gets closer. 

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Looking at the ‘Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series’ prices in the Emmy Awards betting odds at and you’ll immediately see that we’ve got a big favorite in this category.  In fact, the favorite for ‘Outstanding Comedy Actress’ Julia Louis-Dreyfus is priced at -1000 making her the biggest chalk on the board.  She’s actually not the defending champion (more about that in a moment) but she did reel off six consecutive winning years for her role in Veep.  Judging from the odds, the presumption is that she’s going to pick up where she left off in 2017.  Her show was not eligible for the Emmy Awards last year and ‘Outstanding Comedy Actress’ was won by Rachel Brosnahan for her performance as Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus could win but at -1000 she’s just not bettable.  There’s just no value in betting her at -1000 which represents a near 91% implied probability (90.9%).  Another way of looking at implied probability is to consider it your theoretical ‘break even’ percentage.  So if they redid the 2019 Emmy Awards 10,000 times and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won 9,100 of those you’d not have made a penny. We’d rather take a shot on some of the actors that could beat him under certain scenarios and available at much better prices.  They’re priced to represent much better values at that’s the fundamental premise of sports betting success.

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.


Probably not.  She’s got a good shot at winning but in no way is she a ‘lock’.  Looking at the history of the ‘Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series’ as well as the other major comedy awards you’ll see an interesting tendency to reward a series and/or actor consecutively for the same role.  Once the streak is broken, however, you don’t see many situations where the consecutive award winners win again for the same series or role.

This was extremely evident in the ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ category.  A show that gets consecutive awards will stop getting those awards long before it goes off the air. Frasier won five consecutive awards but never won again despite airing for three more seasons.  30 Rock won three consecutive awards and never won again though the show continued for four more seasons.  Modern Family also won five straight awards but after giving up the crown to Veep in 2015 never won again though it ran for three more seasons.

If anything, a show winning another award after it finishes a consecutive run is the exception and not the rule throughout the history of the Emmys.  There have been 16 shows that have won multiple ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ awards.  10 of those series won all of their Emmy Awards consecutively—and never won again.  Veep ended their consecutive streak in 2017 so depending on what happens during the rest of the series run they could end up being #11.  Of the shows that won three or more awards only two did so non-consecutively but this hasn’t happened for 28 years since Cheers did it in 1991.


In this category, there haven’t been many consecutive award winners.  Even legendary performers like Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore only won two awards consecutively.  ATAS has shown a willingness to give an actress another award for a different role—much more so than in the ‘Best Actor’ category.  Of the 12 actresses to win more than one award in this category five were recognized for multiple roles.  Four of the five ‘two award’ winners did so back to back.  The only one who didn’t was Bea Arthur who won single awards for Maude and The Golden Girls.  Jane Wyatt won her three awards back to back.  Helen Hunt won her four awards back to back.  Not only is Louis-Dreyfus winning 7 awards (for two different roles) completely unprecedented so to is the six consecutive wins in a category where no other actor in the history of television has won more than four straight.

So how much is too much?  How much of the run for Veep and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been a function of relatively weak competition?  If ATAS voters do decide that Veep has ‘won enough’ last year’s win for Rachel Brosnahan and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel could represent a transition and not just a ‘fluke’ due to the longtime winner’s ineligibility.  Since we’re getting great underdog prices at we’ll back Rachel Brosnahan to repeat and also take a position on Phoebe Waller-Bridge who has been getting a ton of rave reviews and award support for her performance on Fleabag.



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