Emmy changes nomination rules, aiming for more diversity and inclusivity among contenders

Kelly Lawler
Billy Porter celebrates at the 2019 Emmy Awards.

The Emmys are the latest awards show to adjust the nominee formula. 

Last week, the Oscars announced a host of changes to its nomination process, with the goal of making the top movie awards more diverse. And on Wednesday, the Emmy Awards followed suit: The number of nominees in most categories will now be determined by how many shows or actors submit entries.

Big-ticket best drama and comedy series categories will have eight nominees each, no matter how many shows are entered.  (In previous years, five to eight shows have been nominated.) 

The rule change, which will affect this year's ceremony, set for Sept. 20, is intended to "align the nominations selection process across all awards categories and to allow for more inclusiveness in the recognition of excellence" the TV Academy said in a statement. The organization also noted the huge increases in TV production as the number of streaming services expands. Despite a halt in filming due to the coronavirus pandemic, submissions for Emmy nominations are up 15% this year. 

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“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.

The number of nominations in each category will be determined on a sliding scale:

  • 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

Paired categories, such as best actor in a drama and best actress in a drama, will have the same number of nominations each. 

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The new rule replaces the previous standard, in which most categories had five nominees, with some getting more if the voting was close. 

The 72nd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on ABC, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Whether the awards ceremony will be in-person or virtual, due to the pandemic, has not yet been determined.