The Television Academy’s decision to push back this year’s Emmy Awards voting calendar, and eliminate officially sanctioned campaign events, was applauded on Friday by many network, streamer and studio execs — several of whom had been asking the org to do such a thing.
“People are happy they acknowledged the situation,” one network exec said of the TV Academy Board of Governors, which approved the changes in a meeting Thursday night. Said a studio exec: “I’m glad they were reactive. We all need some breathing time. Everyone wants to be respectful and not be garish.”
In particular, the decision to suspend all For Your Consideration events — including a previously discussed plan to move such screenings and panels online — has allowed for a level playing field for all entrants.
“What are we losing here?” said one exec. “People who show up for free food and a gift bag. It doesn’t always show up in the voting anyway.” Said another: “Those panels can be expensive.”
The revised Emmy Awards calendar essentially shifts the calendar by two weeks. The deadline to upload entry materials moves from May 11 to June 5, and nominations-round voting (“Phase 1”) slides to July 2-13 (previously June 15 to June 29). Nominations, originally scheduled to be announced on July 14, will now be revealed on July 28.
The gap between nominations and final-round voting (“Phase 2”) will be shortened, in order to start lining up the calendar. Instead of Aug. 17 to Aug. 31, voting will now be Aug. 21 to Aug. 31. That allows, at least right now, for the Creative Arts Awards (Sept. 12 and Sept. 13), and the Primetime Emmy telecast, this year broadcast on ABC (Sept. 20) to continue on their previously scheduled dates.
A group of network communications and awards executives discussed such scenarios in a call with Television Academy officials on Monday. Their concern: That in light of coronavirus (Covid-19) quarantines and social distancing, now wasn’t the time to ask talent to campaign for Emmys.
Initially, the org said it would make its decision next week. But the Academy’s Board of Governors came up with this plan late Thursday night.
One network exec said this now gives them time to shift Emmy strategies, as execs look to focus more of their campaign efforts in digital (such as ads and online video) and print. Besides the lack of in-person events, it could also mean a shift from outdoor billboards, given how few people are on the roads right now.
Networks and studios may also reconsider how they reach out to voters. As part of the new Academy fee structure to feature programs on their FYC campaign websites, networks and studios now have a choice on how to alert voters about their FYC screener site: They can send an email, a postcard or a booklet. Many of the larger outlets had initially opted to send out a booklet — but now there’s a concern that those mailers might wind up in empty work offices, unseen. As a result, although there was some concern that emails might get trapped in spam folders, that might become the preferred way to alert Academy members.
“Everyone’s online right now,” one exec noted. “We might be doing a lot more things digitally.”
As part of the announcement, the Academy has extended the eligibility date for “hanging episodes” to June 30 (formerly May 31). That means a series that premiered by the end of eligibility (on May 31) will still have all of its episodes eligible should they be posted on an accessible platform by June 30.
That could allow for some series that had come close — but not quite — to finishing production on their season. But right now, it’s looking unlikely that cameras will begin rolling again anytime soon, which means the “hanging episodes” extension will likely not have much impact.
As for whether the Sept. 20 Primetime Emmys date will move, that will be partly ABC’s call — and there’s no reason to make that decision just yet. The Emmy telecast is generally utilized by the broadcast networks as a signal that the fall TV season is about to begin — but there are plenty of questions to address about when or how even fall TV will return.
On the flip side, should the world be returning to normal by September, the Emmy Awards could serve as a celebration for an industry and a world looking to get back in business.