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Television Academies Announce Overhaul of Primetime and Daytime Emmy Award Categories

The TV academies declared that eligibility for the Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards respectively will now have nothing to do with timeslots.

Emmys atmosphere

Chelsea Lauren

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) delivered an unprecedented joint message December 14, announcing a realignment of both the Primetime Emmy Awards and Daytime Emmy Awards competitions, with an emphasis on prioritizing content genre over program scheduling.

“NATAS and the Television Academy each pride ourselves on celebrating and honoring the best television has to offer, and with the evolution of our industry, it was critical to update our competitions to meet current trends in both content and viewing habits,” said Adam Sharp, President and CEO, NATAS. “These changes will allow each Academy to honor an undivided scope of achievement in our respective fields of television excellence.”

“The realignment of these Emmy competitions represents the most significant collaboration between the Television Academy and NATAS since the two became separate entities in 1977,” said Maury McIntyre, President and COO, Television Academy. “We’re proud to be responsive to the needs of the creative community and the evolution of our industry, ensuring the Emmy Award remains the preeminent mark of excellence across all genres of television.”

The move is just the latest cooperative effort between the two entities, which recently included expanding the Children’s & Family Emmy Awards into a standalone franchise. According to the press release provided by the organizations, the move comes as a reaction and reflection of a changing industry, in which dividing TV awards into two ceremonies dictated by airtime and not content seems antiquated. (More on this in a moment.)

As exciting as the announcement is, there’s still a lot that appears to be up in the air. While the release neglected to do a category by category breakdown of what will ultimately be effected by this maneuver, there were some details included, though how much clarity they offer is, well, unclear.

An example: Despite this momentous sea change, neither overarching awards show is going to change its name, which means that the Daytime Emmy Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards will continue despite not exclusively adjudicating competitions in daytime and primetime, respectively. Which has been true of both for years, thanks to the rise of streaming, but still feels a little itchy.

THE 72ND EMMY® AWARDS - Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the "72nd Emmy® Awards" will broadcast SUNDAY, SEPT. 20 (8:00 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. MDT/5:00 p.m. PDT), on ABC. (ABC/ABC)JIMMY KIMMEL

The 72nd Emmy Awards


A few of the facts as we understand them are as follows:

Scripted dramas and comedies will enter the Television Academy’s national competition (i.e. Emmy Awards), irregardless of airtime (which, for all the youths reading, means what time of day the shows air, because there are these things called channels and networks that air content on a rigid timetable instead of whenever, wherever, on whatever device you so choose). There are, however, two exceptions that will remain in the NATAS’ national competitions: programming intended for ages 15 and under will compete in the Children’s and Family competition, and the Daytime Drama categories will remain in under NATAS’ purview, though the category will be redefined to include “any multi-camera, weekday daily serial, spin-off or reboot.”

Content previously recognized in the Limited Drama categories of the Daytime competition will now be included in the Primetime competition. (Don’t let this throw you, though, as it seems likely that the category would get included in the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and not the Primetime Emmy Awards but, you know.)

Direct from the release from the organizations: “Talk shows will be awarded in each competition, separated by format and style characteristics reflective of current programming in the daytime or late night space,” which sounds a lot like daytime talk shows will remain with the Daytime competition and late night talk shows will remain with the Primetime competition.

All morning show categories will be retired from the Daytime competition and eligible programming will instead compete at the News & Documentary Emmys or Daytime’s Talk Show categories, depending on format.

It’s clear from Tuesday’s announcement that there are still a lot of wrinkles yet to be worked out in the restructuring plan, but while we’re here, it would be remiss not to address the elephant in the room.

This stark overhaul of the TV awards system is an incredibly strong move in the right direction for both the Television Academy and NATAS. Re-evaluating how we recognize the best of television with the advent and takeover of streaming entertainment options is vital if the Emmy Awards, in any form, wish to stay relevant.

Which is why this would be the perfect moment for the Television Academy to announce that they’ve also decided to adjust its eligibility calendar, finally breaking away from the June 1 — May 31 window that has long dictated the Emmy calendar, rendering it asynchronous with every other entertainment awards ceremony. It’s an eligibility calendar built on the back of summer reruns and a nine-month TV season, and those times are long gone. It’s the necessary next step to bringing the TV Academy to the here and now.

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