As the Formerly Warring TV Academies Make Peace, Emmy Realignment Moves to Genre, Not Daypart, Distinctions

As the Formerly Warring TV Academies Make Peace, Emmy Realignment Moves to Genre, Not Daypart, Distinctions

12/14/2021

The walls that long separated the L.A.-based Television Academy and its New York counterpart, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, continue to be torn down. In the latest agreement between the two orgs, several more categories have been realigned to focus on genre, rather than dayparts, as a way to divide eligibility between the Primetime and Daytime Emmys.

“We’re no longer looking at the clock to decide what’s daytime, and what’s primetime,” NATAS president/CEO Adam Sharp told Variety. “That just no longer makes sense, in the way consumers currently watch TV. I think this realignment reflects that and allows us to have more clarity between the two competitions. I think it also makes it a lot easier for creators in our community who were getting increasingly confused — ‘I produce a show for a streaming platform, that I intend to be consumed at all different times. So where does that put me?’”

Most notably, the alignment shifts all scripted programming to enter the Primetime Emmys, with two exceptions: Daytime soap operas — defined as “multi-camera, weekday daily serials” and any spinoffs or reboots of those sudsers — will remain with the Daytime Emmys. And as previously announced, all children’s fare are now be a part of the new Children’s & Family Emmys, which launches in 2022 as a new ceremony.

That means all of the non-daily soaps that had previously competed in the Daytime Emmys — series like Amazon Prime Video’s “Studio City” and Popstar TV’s “The Bay” — will now move to Primetime consideration. “Studio City” won the Daytime Emmy this year for outstanding limited drama series, in which it competed against “The Bay,” “A House Divided” (UMC) and “Beacon Hill” (Reel Women’s Network); but that category will be discontinued.

In the talk fields, the TV Academy and NATAS will keep two separate talk show competitions in both the Daytime and Primetime competitions for now. But the orgs have added language specifying the format and style characteristics that make a “daytime talk show” vs. a primetime or late-night talker. Series that have previously competed in the Daytime Emmys will continue to do so, and late night in the Primetime Emmys. But shows will be allowed to petition to switch competitions if they can make a case that they belong in that ceremony. “Ellen” is an example of a talk show that has a format to late-night shows like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” or “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” but will remain in the daytime competition because of precedent. But future daytime shows in the style of “Ellen” may want to submit in the Primetime Emmys.

“Imagine a column A and column B, , and if you check more of the boxes in column A, you’re probably Daytime,” Sharp said. “ If you check more boxes in column B, you’re probably Primetime.

NATAS also announced that it has scrapped the morning show and Spanish-language morning show categories from the Daytime Emmys, noting that the more news-oriented morning shows (like “Today” and “Good Morning America”) should compete in the News & Documentary Emmys, while the more chat-oriented morning shows (like the third hours of “Today” and “GMA”) should move to talk.

Also, the TV Academy and NATAS have decided to wait a year before determing how to handle game show and instructional/DIY programming categories. There’s a chance that both daytime and primetime entrants may end up on one show (much like what happened when the children’s categories were combined and sent to Daytime), or they could continue to be split, like talk. The orgs will continue to map out plans for a genre-based alignment in time for 2023.

“It’s a little more complicated than perhaps some of these other categories are to resolve,” Sharp said. “Now that we’ve announced it, it also gives us the luxury of being able to talk about changes more freely, and engage a broader swath of the community in that discussion. Now we can actually work with many more actual creators and submitters and get their direct feedback on how potential ideas would affect them.”

There will probably be plenty of questions about eligibility over the next several months, which is why the Television Academy and NATAS also form a joint-Academy panel charged with making eligibility determinations between competitions and respective categories. Show producers who are unsure of which competition to enter which they are eligible or who are petitioning to switch contests will be encouraged to submit to the eligibility review panel prior to submission.

Meanwhile, as the two orgs look to switch from focusing on dayparts and instead moving to genres, it’s a sign of the times. But the names won’t change: The Daytime Emmys will remain, with its June home, while the Primetime Emmys will continue in September.

The decision last year to move all of the Primetime Emmy kids categories to the Daytime Emmys (and as of next year, the Children’s & Family Emmys, administered by NATAS) represented a major thaw in the 43-year cold war between the two TV academies. The orgs split in 1977 over irreconcilable differences, and spent the next few decades at war, ocassionally suing each other over issues of Emmy domains and oversight. Things reached a boiling point in 2008, when NATAS tried to launch its own Broadband Emmys, and the TV Academy balked.

But under Sharp and TV Academy president/COO Maury McIntyre, the lines of communication began to reopen. Variety talked to the two of them, together, last year in the first major joint interview between the TV Academy and NATAS in decades, and they revealed the renewed collaboration.

“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 McIntyre. “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.”

But don’t expect talk of a reunification. “That hasn’t even been discussed, and if anything, I think you’re less likely to see that,” Sharp said. “What we’ve accomplished here, I think, allows for sustainable stability… This alignment now recognizes that there is more than enough great content out there to keep both academies very, very busy.”

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