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Big Four Networks Begin Talks With TV Academy on New Emmy Awards Deal

The Big Four networks are revving up talks with the Television Academy about a new licensing deal for the Primetime Emmy Awards.

The sides have been informally preparing for negotiations for the past few months. The current contract expires after the 2018 telecast. It’s expected that ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox will continue to share the kudocast under the rotating “wheel” format that has been the Emmy standard for more than 25 years.

Ken Ziffren of Ziffren Brittenham is advising the TV Academy on the deal. Negotiations on the new deal typically start more than a year before the existing contract expires but were delayed this time around by the transition of leadership at the TV Academy late last year from Bruce Rosenblum to current chairman-CEO Hayma Washington.

A preliminary meeting was held late last month between representatives of the TV Academy and the four networks to begin the negotiations. As part of the negotiations, an 11-page document has been circulated, laying out discussion points. But a source tells Variety that the document did not lay out any specifics about the broadcasters’ desire to see the number of categories given out during the show trimmed. “These groups have not met in eight years,” says the source. “There are a lot of new players on both sides.”

The last eight-year Primetime Emmy licensing pact was set in 2011.

Compared to the Oscars and the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards fetches a relatively small annual license fee of under $10 million per telecast, although the hosting network kicks in a significant amount for the production and marketing of the show. By contrast, the Oscars commands an estimated $70 million annually from ABC/Disney for worldwide rights, while CBS shells out upwards of $20 million for the Grammys.

The Emmys typically draw lower ratings than other awards shows, and have seen viewership trend downward in recent years. Facing competition from “Sunday Night Football,” last year’s Emmys hit an all time low with 11.3 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers.

Deadline first reported news of the long-anticipated negotiations commencing.

The TV Academy declined comment.

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