Emmys: Networks, Studios May Ask TV Academy to Push FYC Calendar (EXCLUSIVE)

Michael Schneider

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After days of discussing amongst themselves, a group of TV communications and awards execs may ask the Television Academy to potentially push the Emmy awards calendar, or at least address some of their questions about how this year’s campaign season will proceed.

The execs, who hail from most of the major networks, studios and streamers, have scheduled a call with the Television Academy today to discuss their concerns, and see where the org currently stands in terms of this Emmy season.

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Among their burning questions: Is it gauche to be campaigning for an Emmy right now, and would it be better to shift the entire calendar, including the Primetime Emmy telecast, instead? Will the eligibility window, which currently ends on May 31, be extended to allow for shutdown productions to finish their episodes? Will the For Your Consideration calendar of screenings and panels, which was determined by lottery in January, be revised should events be allowed to resume in May or June?

Ultimately, the networks/studios are in favor of a plan that would shift campaign season into June and July, tighten the time between voting windows, and allow more campaigning (and events) during the second phase of voting, when Academy-approved events are usually not allowed.

“There’s no appetite through at least the end of May to send people out in the world shilling their projects,” said one studio exec.

For now, the Academy has opted to hold tight, as most of its major Emmy dates are still not for a few more months. The deadline to upload entry materials is May 11, while nominations-round voting (“Phase 1”) takes place from June 15 to June 29. Nominations are announced on July 14.

Final-round voting (“Phase 2”) takes place from August 17 to August 31. Results are revealed during the Creative Arts Awards on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, and then the Primetime Emmy telecast, this year broadcast on ABC, on Sept. 20.

But networks and studios have to figure out now how to proceed with their FYC plans — such as holds on venues, and talent availability.

“Yes the telecast is on September 20th but voting has to happen in six weeks, which spurs a second round of voting four weeks after that, which then spurs a bunch of decisions about talent gathering in public to campaign,” the exec added. “It’s not so simple saying we can keep the Emmys for now. They should be focused on what ordinarily would happen in April, May and June.”

Another studio exec said they understood the Academy’s hesitation to make a decision in March, given that this is their key business. But as the networks and studios collectively come to them with the same concerns, it makes sense for the Academy to come up with a blanket policy, rather than leaving it up to individual outlets to make their own, conflicting decisions on how to handle this FYC season and when to start campaigning.

“We’re all dealing with the new world,” the exec said. “People are waiting until the last minute to make decisions in the hope that things will change, but it affects the bottom line.”

Adding to the anxiety is the fact that the nature of Emmy FYC campaigning has already changed this year with the end of DVD box sets, which have been banned effective this year.

As part of the fees to feature programs on their FYC campaign websites, networks and studios now have a choice on how to alert TV Academy members about their FYC screener site: They can send an email, a postcard or a booklet. Many of the larger outlets had opted to send out a booklet, but it’s unclear now whether efforts to shut “non-essential” businesses will have an impact on those mailers.

As for shifting the Emmy Awards, there is precedent: In 2001, the ceremony was moved twice following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, before finally taking place on Nov. 4 that year. Also, network/studio execs note that there is a two-week gap between the end of Phase 1 voting (June 29) and the nominations announcement (July 14), and another two-week gap between the end of Phase 2 voting (Aug. 31) and the first Creative Arts Emmys ceremony (Sept. 12) — time that perhaps could be tightened.

“If the Academy shifts dates and people focus on phase 2, people have felt more comfortable with October,” says one exec. “It’s when Coachella and other events have already been rescheduled to.”