Emmy for Best Variety Talk Series: Experts predict John Oliver, but Editors predict Stephen Colbert

In what continues to be a close Emmy race for Best Variety Talk Series, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” is the frontrunner to win for the second straight year with leading odds of 5/6 based on the combined predictions of nearly 2,000 total users at Gold Derby. That translates to a 54% chance of victory, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. While the Experts we’ve polled from top media outlets say John Oliver will repeat, our Editors who cover awards year-round currently say “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is in pole position. But for both groups the race is still incredibly close.

As of this writing, eight of our 16 Experts forecast a victory for “Last Week Tonight”: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Nikki Novak (Fandango), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), and Adnan Virk (ESPN).

That’s compared to just three Experts picking Stephen Colbert: Eric Deggans (NPR), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times). But Colbert is himself a past winner, just like Oliver: he won Best Variety Series in 2013 and 2014, which is even more impressive because in those years talk shows and sketch shows competed against each other in the same race.

For the Editors, support is divided the other way around. Three out of the six of us predict Colbert: Chris Beachum, Marcus James Dixon, and Rob Licuria. Compare that to two Editors predicting Oliver: Matt Noble and myself.

However, in our combined predictions “Late Show” trails significantly with 4/1 odds, or about a 19% chance of winning. That actually places it third behind “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” which isn’t the favorite of any of our prediction leagues but has enough support from each that it gets second-place odds of 7/2 (21% chance of winning). If it sounds like Colbert and Bee are quite far behind when Oliver has a better than 50/50 chance of winning again, well, you’re right. But let’s not forget that FiveThirtyEight thought Hillary Clinton had a 71% chance of winning the US presidency last November, and that race is usually far more predictable than the Emmys.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on September 17. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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