The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will launch a new Emmy Awards ceremony next year to honor children’s and family content. The Children’s & Family Emmy Awards will remove those categories from the Daytime Emmys, where kids fare was previously honored, as recognition that those programs transcend daypart.
The Children’s & Family Emmy Awards is the first new Emmy expansion since 1979, and comes following an agreement earlier this year between New York-based NATAS and its Los Angeles counterparts at the Television Academy (which administers the Primetime Emmys) to consolidate all children’s programming, both daytime and primetime, under NATAS’ domain.
“This is something we have had in the works for a while,” said NATAS president/CEO Adam Sharp, who noted that the org had already created a separate Daytime Emmys Creative Arts ceremony focused on children’s, family and lifestyle programming over the past two years.
“That was really testing a hypothesis, reflecting on the immense growth we have seen in the children’s competition categories and the tremendous feedback we’ve been getting from the community that there was enough energy here to sustain a ceremony in itself,” Sharp said. “At the same time this year, we rolled in those primetime children’s programming categories that had never been in our competition before — awarding children’s programming across all day parts and not being tied to an arbitrary time on the clock. And so working with our counterparts at the Television Academy, we started to really think about how to spin these categories out of the daytime competition and stand on its own two feet.”
NATAS said the children’s and family content categories were already the fastest-growing genre among all of its Emmy awards, with a 23% increase in programming over the past two years. The individual achievement in animation category received nearly 300 submissions last year, the most among any NATAS Emmy contest.
Reflecting that growth, NATAS added seven new categories in the growing preschool TV sector, which will now be a part of the new Children’s & Family Emmys.
Now that the children’s and family categories have been removed from the Daytime Emmys, Sharp said NATAS will do some reshaping now that those kids’ shows don’t have to fall under the same protocol. And it will also give some breathing room to the Daytime Emmys, which has swelled to more than 100 categories.
“We had been adding categories over the years to accommodate the changing industry, but we weren’t necessarily trimming in other areas at the same time,” he said. “So some steam had to be led out of the kettle. Segmenting these competitions now into these two tracks of daytime and children’s does allow each competition to breathe a bit. And realign the categorization to better serve each community. For children’s that does mean we will wind up adding some categories and also reshaping some categories because now they’re able to stand on their own and not exist in a daytime environment. So we’re not necessarily as focused on the symmetry of children’s categories and their daytime counterparts as much as we may have been in the past. We can tailor them a bit more to the children’s community.”
The Children’s & Family Emmys’ actual categories, eligibility rules and call for entries will take place in 2022, as will the announcement on when the ceremony might take place. NATAS plans to use this announcement to broaden the pool of feedback before locking into categories.
“The goal here is a cadence of awards throughout the year, as far as NATAS is concerned,” Sharp said. Besides Daytime Emmys, NATAS also holds the Sports Emmy Awards and the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, both of which launched in 1979. The Daytime Emmys are usually held around June, while the Television Academy’s Primetime Emmys are normally in September. NATAS will likely want to avoid those times of the year for the Children’s & Family Emmys.
Among other likely possibilities are a lifetime achievement award for the new ceremony. Children’s programs have been honored in the past, such as “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” creator and host Fred Rogers, at the Daytime Emmys.
Sharp credited the renewed relationship between the formerly antagonistic TV academies with paving the way to this new ceremony. “This really is the result of the two academies working together to say how do we best serve the needs of the community and looking at the state of the industry today,” he said. “Recognizing that this is a growing sector of our industry, no longer limited by just three hours on Saturday morning across three networks. I think really works to the benefit of the whole community, and of the awards. And I think you’ll see more from us in the coming months as we build on that to look at how we align all our competitions categories, to best serve the community in that regard.”