The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has released, for the first time, demographic information on the makeup of the judges behind its Daytime, News and Documentary and Sports Emmy Awards. And, by the org’s own admission, it still has some work to do on representation — particularly when it comes to the sports competition.

According to its report on judging demographics, 73% of NATAS’ Sports Emmy judges are male, and 25% are female. Also, 82% of the award’s judges are white, with just 9% Black, 7% Latino and 3% Asian American. Additionally, 92% of judges said they publicly identify as straight, with just 4% publicly identifying as LGBTQ.

NATAS president/CEO Adam Sharp said the org knew they faced a challenge with the Sports Emmys, given the demographic imbalance found in the sports media industry itself.

“How do we make that pivot from being simply a reflection of the industry and a trailing edge of progress in the industry, to being a driver and leading edge of change in the industry?” Sharp said. “Our business model has been we award the work you did last year, awarding the past. But this is really an issue where we want to drive the future. Our judging pool largely comes from the networks, comes from the shows, along with their entries. So it is a mirror of the current state of the industry. But by putting a spotlight on that, can we provide some thought leadership by creating categories that invite a more diverse set of creators and honoring them with Emmys?”

That’s why last year NATAS added an “Emerging On-Air Talent” category to the Sports Emmys. That award was made eligible for on-air personalities who have been in the industry less than five years.

“The pool of submitters for that were a significantly more diverse pool of submitters than we saw in any of our other personality categories,” Sharp said. “When you bring in more opportunity for younger talent, a more diverse pool of talent and pool of creators to participate in the competition, that helps attract a more diverse pool of judges to the competition as well.”

Sharp said NATAS will now add a similar category for new on-air talent to the News and Documentary Emmys, which is slightly more diverse than the Sports Emmys, but still has a judging body that is predominantly white (70%), while just 6% of judges are Black, 13% Latino and 9% Asian American. The News & Doc Emmys judges do include more females (52%). For sexual orientation, 77% of the News & Doc judges publicly identify as straight, and 13% as LGBTQ.

The Daytime Emmys boasts by far the most balanced judging body of the three shows, with a 49%/47% female/male split; and a makeup that is 65% white, 16% Black, 11% Latino and 7% Asian American. Also, 68% publicly identify as straight, and 20% as LGBTQ.

In asking the question of sexual orientation, Sharp said NATAS deliberately asked judges to respond on how they publicly identify, so that anyone who was publicly closeted could maintain their privacy. That was especially important in the Sports Emmys: “That is one area where we suspected going into this, that perhaps the sports industry would be the one where that number would be most underreported,” Sharp said. “And if you look against census data, that’s probably the case here. That would seem to indicate an under reporting of the gay community working in sports television. We seem to have confirmed that hypothesis a bit with another question we have where judges who participated in a survey, were actually given two choices in terms of the anonymity of their data.”

Unlike the Primetime Emmys, which are voted on by the full membership of the Los Angeles-based Television Academy, NATAS’ Emmys are determined by these judging bodies. “These are the people who are actually viewing the content, scoring the content voting the content and determining to whom Emmys are awarded,” Sharp said. More than 1,700 judges participated in the optional survey.

The demographic survey is part of NATAS’ annual transparency report (read the full report here), which covers the org’s major 2020 and 2021 contests, zeroing in on judging irregularities, nomination challenges and eligibility issues — and how they handled each dispute.

NATAS first launched a transparency report in 2019, following a Daytime Emmys awards debacle in 2018 that rocked the organization and led to a threatened boycott by TV’s major daytime soap operas. Sharp joined the org in the midst of that scandal, and kicked off a reform process that included the report.

In the case of this report’s roundup on issues surrounding the Daytime Emmys, in 2020, ten of the 1,010 judges in the competition were identified for review. In nine of those cases, their results were disqualified. In 2021, nine of the 866 judges in the competition were identified for committee review. In two cases, those results were removed.

“From that 2018 experience, I think we learned the importance of transparency and walking our community through a lot of these tough decisions that go into the awards process,” Sharp said. “This document is designed to provide that transparency, and illustrate the due diligence that the NATAS staff, the judges and the awards committee take to preserve the integrity of that that process. The competition is only as strong as the community confidence in it and in the results.”