Rule Changes Announced for the 2016 Emmy Awards

Emmy Awards

The 2016 Emmy Awards also eliminates the preferential ballot from final round voting.

The Television Academy announced several rule changes today. The changes appear to be an effort to recognize the dramatic increase in content across multiple mediums. At the 2016 Emmy Awards, the Academy will recognize short form (largely Internet-based) content with specific categories at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony. It was previously announced the Creative Arts ceremony would expand to two nights.

Short form content is defined as content averaging 15 minutes or less.

Additionally, the Academy expands the number of comedy and drama writing and directing nominees from five to six nominees. This change matches the number of previously increased acting nominees across both disciplines. There will continue to be seven comedy and drama series nominees.

Perhaps most impactful, however, is the decision to eliminate the preferential ballot from final round voting. Rather than asking Emmy voters to rank their final choices as the Oscars famously do, the Emmys will ask voters to make a single selection from the nominees. It’s an intriguing move to streamline the historically complicated voting process. Now, the top vote recipient takes all.

“Our industry is aggressively, quickly and creatively evolving the various ways episodic stories are told.  Our Board of Governors felt that this expansion of short form categories begins the process of ensuring that Emmy-worthy creativity will be rewarded, irrespective of format or platform,” said Bruce Rosenblum, Television Academy Chairman and CEO in a published statement. “These category changes reflect the broader opportunities that emerging networks and distribution platforms, such as Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Crackle, AwesomenessTV, YouTube Red, Adult Swim and others, are seizing in choosing innovative formats that enable our television community to share stories in novel and entertaining ways.”

Here is a complete listing of Emmy Awards rule changes courtesy of the Television Academy.

Changes to the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards Competition

New and expanded categories for Short Form Series: three short form categories are added; potential entrants are defined as series with a minimum of six episodes running an average of 15 minutes or less per episode, exhibited over-the-air and/or via cable, satellite or internet.

  • Outstanding Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama (replaces Short Format Live Entertainment category)
  • Outstanding Short Form Series – Variety (new)
  • Outstanding Short Form Series – Reality/Nonfiction (replaces Short Format Nonfiction category)

New categories for Performers in Short Form Series:  

  • Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama (new)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama (new)

Increased the number of nominations from Five to Six in the following categories:

  • Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Expanded the following award categories:

  • Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming is now Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program and Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program.
  • Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Programming is now Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Series and Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Event or Award Special.

Eliminated Preferential/Ranked Voting in the Final Round: Categories in which voters were asked to rank nominees in order of preference will now require just a single vote for the top selection only. In the event of a tie, the nominee with the most votes in the previous nominating round will be selected as winner.  If these same nominees were tied in the nominating round, then the tie is accepted and multiple winners will be awarded.

Adopted a Two-Step Nominating Process for Special Visual Effects: Members of the SVE Peer Group Executive Committee will view and score all entries. A minimum of 15 top-scoring entries in both SVE categories will progress to the nominating ballot for voting by the entire peer group.

Nominees for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series will now be drawn from two tracks: Variety Talk Series (e.g., The Colbert Report, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) and Variety/Sketch Series (e.g., American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Saturday Night Live). Nominees will be proportionate to the number of submissions in each track, with at least one nomination for each.

Changed Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming from a Juried Award (no nominations) to an Area Award (possible five nominations): This allows the entire peer group to vote in both the nominating and final phases of the competition.

Changed Categorization of Shortened Seasons for Regular Series: Once a show is established as a series, if additional shortened seasons are added (fewer than six episodes), it would still be considered a series, unless it was limited to one or two episodes (which would categorize it as a movie and a limited series respectively).

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