Primetime Emmy Awards

Primetime Emmy Award
Current: 76th Primetime Emmy Awards
Awarded forExcellence in primetime television
CountryUnited States
Presented byAcademy of Television Arts & Sciences
First awardedJanuary 25, 1949; 75 years ago (1949-01-25)
Television/radio coverage
NetworkABC (Every 3 Years from 1967–1985, 1993–94, Every 4 years Since 1996)
CBS (Every 3 Years from 1966–1984, Every 4 Years since 1997)
NBC (1955–64, Every 3 Years from 1968–1986, Every 4 Years since 1998)
Fox (1987–1992, Every 4 Years Since 1995)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, or Primetime Emmys, are part of the extensive range of Emmy Awards for artistic and technical merit for the American television industry. Bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the Primetime Emmys are presented in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming. The award categories are divided into three classes: the regular Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards to honor technical and other similar behind-the-scenes achievements, and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards for recognizing significant contributions to the engineering and technological aspects of television. First given out in 1949, the award was originally referred to as simply the "Emmy Award" until the International Emmy Award and the Daytime Emmy Award were created in the early 1970s to expand the Emmy to other sectors of the television industry.

The Primetime Emmy Awards generally air every September, on the Sunday before the official start of the fall television season. Since 1995, the Emmys have been broadcast in rotation among the four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC), each network taking turns to air the ceremony every four years. If NBC broadcasts it, the ceremony is moved to Monday night (in 2006, 2010, and 2014, NBC aired in late-August), so that it does not conflict with NBC's commitment to broadcasting Sunday-night NFL games (due to another conflict, this time with the MTV Video Music Awards, the 2014 ceremony was also shifted to a Monday). The 2018 ceremony and 2022 ceremony, both broadcast by NBC, was moved back to September and aired on a Monday.


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) was founded by Syd Cassyd in 1946. The first Emmy ceremony took place on January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Tickets cost $5 and only six awards were presented.

The Emmy statuette was designed by Louis McManus. It depicts a winged muse holding an electron, combining visual metaphors for the arts and sciences. The design for the Emmy statuette was chosen after 47 other designs were rejected. The name "Emmy" comes from the nickname "Immy," used to describe the image-orthicon camera tube that was a significant 1940s technical breakthrough in capturing images for television. Because the statue features a female figure holding an electron, the name "Immy" was feminized to "Emmy."

The Emmys originally honored shows produced and aired locally in the Los Angeles area, but soon expanded into a national event in 1952 to honor shows aired nationwide on broadcast television. Originally, there was only one Emmy event held per year to honor shows nationally broadcast in the United States. In 1968, an "Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Programming" category was added once, but due to the voting rules of the time, judges could opt to either award one or no Emmy, and in the end they decided that no one should be nominated. This snub outraged soap opera writer Agnes Nixon, causing her to write in The New York Times, "...after viewing the recent fiasco of the Emmy awards, it may well be considered a mark of distinction to have been ignored by this group." This eventually led to the creation of the separate Daytime Emmy Awards just for daytime programming, run by the sister organization, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS).

Cable programs first became eligible for the Primetime Emmys in 1988. Original online-only streaming television programs then became eligible in 2013.

Between 1949 and 2001, voting members had to watch submissions at the ATAS or local hotels. From 2002 to 2014, members could watch submissions at home on DVDs. Starting in 2015, members could watch submissions through secure online platforms, with DVDs being eliminated in 2020.

In December 2021, the ATAS and NATAS announced major realignments to the Emmy Awards, accounting for the growth of streaming services by aligning their categories and the ceremonies' scopes around factors such as the themes and frequency of such programming, rather than dayparts:

  • All categories for scripted comedies and dramas, excluding daytime serial dramas (defined as an episodic, multi-camera drama serial that airs on a weekday basis, or a reboot or spin-off of such a series), and programming targeting viewers 15 and younger (which will fall under the new Children's & Family Emmy Awards debuting in 2022) will fall under the ATAS and Primetime Emmy Awards moving forward, regardless of scheduling.
  • Talk shows will be divided between the Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards based on "format and style characteristics reflective of current programming in the daytime or late night space".
  • Awards for morning shows will be moved to the News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
  • Categories for game shows and instructional/DIY programming will remain split between the Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards for 2022, pending realignment in 2023.


Among the Primetime Emmy Award rules, a show must originally air on American television during the eligibility period between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. In order to be considered a national primetime show, the program must air between 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., and to at least 50 percent of the country. A show that enters into the Primetime Emmy Awards cannot also be entered into the Daytime Emmy Awards or any other national Emmy competition. For shows in syndication, whose air times vary between media markets, they can either be entered in the Daytime or Primetime Emmy Awards (provided they still reach the 50 percent national reach), but not in both. For game shows that reach the 50 percent threshold, they can be entered into the Daytime Emmy Awards if they normally air before 8 p.m (including the former "access hour" from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.); otherwise, they are only eligible for the Primetime Emmy Awards. For streaming television programs, they must be available for downloading or streaming to more than 50 percent of the country, and like shows in syndication they can only enter in one of the national Emmy competitions.

Shows that are offered for pre-sale to consumers, whether on home video devices or via the Web, are ineligible if the pre-sale period starts more than seven days before the show's initial airing. Also, a show that receives what the academy calls a "general theatrical release" before its first airing (either via television or the Internet) is ineligible. The definition of this phrase excludes limited releases for the specific purpose of award qualification, such as screenings at film festivals or the one-week releases in Los Angeles (and, for documentaries, New York City as well) required for Oscar eligibility.

Entries must be submitted by the end of April, even if a show is not scheduled to originally air until the following month when the eligibility period ends in May. Most award categories also require entries to include DVDs or tape masters of the show. For most series categories, any six episodes that originally aired during the eligibility period must be submitted (programs that were cancelled before airing their sixth episode are thus ineligible). For most individual achievement categories, only one episode is required to be submitted; if an episode is a two-parter, both parts may be included on the submitted DVD.

Ballots to select the nominations are sent to Academy members in June. For most categories, members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees only in their respective categories (i.e. writers vote for writing awards, actors vote for acting awards). As of July 1, 2021, the various TV industry professions were sorted into 29 Peer Groups. All 16,000 members can vote for nominations in the 14 best program categories (including: Drama Series, Comedy Series, Limited Series, Television Movies, Variety Talk Series, Variety Sketch Series, Competition, and Short Form Series). The final voting poll to determine the winners is held in August, and is done by judging panels. In June, the academy solicits volunteers among its active members to serve on these panels. All active members may serve on the program panels; otherwise they are restricted to those categories within their own branch.


The Primetime Emmy statuette is made of copper, nickel, silver and gold and takes five and a half hours to make. Each Emmy weighs six pounds, twelve ounces.

The number of statuettes given to winners varies by category. All members of a team are not guaranteed their own trophy. However, winners in large teams (such as writers) can purchase their own trophy for an estimated $400.


Primetime Emmy Awards

The Primetime Emmy Award is awarded in the following categories:

Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards

The Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards are awarded in the following categories (some of which separately recognize work based on whether a single-camera or multi-camera setup was used):












Lighting design / direction

Main title design



Picture editing

Production design

Sound editing

Sound mixing

Special and visual effects

Stunt coordination

Technical direction


Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards

The Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards are given specifically for outstanding achievement in engineering. They are presented to an individual, company, or organization for engineering developments so significant an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the transmission, recording, or reception of television. The award, which is television's highest engineering honor, is determined by a jury of highly qualified, experienced engineers in the television industry.

Retired categories

A number of awards have been retired throughout the years, including some that have been replaced by similar award categories in the Daytime Emmy Awards, Sports Emmy Awards, and other areas of recognition:

  1. ^ Replaced by a similar category in the Children's & Family Emmy Awards
  2. ^ a b c Replaced by a similar category in the Sports Emmy Awards
  3. ^ a b Replaced by a similar category in the Daytime Emmy Awards


Overall wins for a performer, program, etc.

Overall nominations for a performer, program, etc.

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-04-17 13:35 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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