After much conversation about the need during this era of “Peak TV” for the Emmy race to expand the number of nominees in key categories, the Television Academy is doing just that. The org announced late Wednesday that it would expand the number of nominations in comedy and drama to eight, regardless of the number of submissions.
That expansion was among several additional rules changes announced for this year’s 72nd Emmy Awards competition, including a restructuring of how nominees are selected in each category.
“To align the nominations selection process across all awards categories and to allow for more inclusiveness in the recognition of excellence,” in other categories the number of nominees per category will now be based on the number of submissions in each category.
“The increase in submissions is a reflection of the number of new voices, new television platforms and a tremendous growth in content from existing platforms across our industry,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma. “Despite production suspension resulting from COVID-19, there is a wealth of excellent work submitted for this year’s competition.”
Here’s how it works. The number of nominations in a category will now be determined using the following criteria:
1-19 submissions: A sliding scale between zero to 4 nominations
20-80 submissions: 5 nominations
81-160 submissions: 6 nominations
161-240 submissions: 7 nominations
> 240 submissions: 8 nominations
Comedy and drama series categories will have eight nominations each, regardless of the number of submissions received. Paired performer categories (i.e., supporting actor comedy and supporting actress comedy) will have parity in the number of nominations.
Per the TV Academy, Emmy submissions for 2020 have increased by 15% over the previous competition year.
The Television Academy previously allowed seven nominees in the outstanding drama and comedy categories, six in variety talk, variety sketch, structured reality, unstructured reality and competition categories, and five in everything else (including the ever-growing limited series field).
Ties occasionally bumped up those numbers via the Academy’s 2% rule — which specified that in categories with five nominees, if the fifth and sixth top vote-getters were within 2% of each other, both would be nominated. But with these changes, the 2% rule will no longer be necessary, and has been eliminated.
The Academy last expanded the drama and comedy race in 2015, from six. Yet the number of series on TV continues to balloon: According to FX’s annual tally, there were 532 scripted original series in 2019. Although there isn’t a count in the unscripted space, that number is believed to be perhaps closer to 1,000.
The TV Academy change comes after the Motion Picture Academy also announced that starting with the 94th Oscars in 2022, there will be a guaranteed 10 best picture nominees.
It’s been a busy week of news for the Television Academy, which recently canceled this year’s three post-Emmys Governors Balls and has also announced plans to rethink the Creative Arts Emmys as a series of virtual events. On Tuesday, the org and ABC also announced that Jimmy Kimmel would return to host the 72nd Emmy Awards on ABC.
Nominations for the 72nd Emmy Awards will be announced by the Television Academy on Tuesday, July 28. The Primetime Emmy telecast will take place as planned on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET; details on producer and more information on the telecast are expected to be revealed soon.