Voting for the Emmys: How Votes Work

TV Academy, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Kimmel Emmys

Jimmy Kimmel is the host of the 68th Primetime Emmys. (ABC/Jeff Lipsky)

The winners at the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Awards are not chosen by the fans, but by the industry itself, much like the Academy Awards. However, there is a big different between the Emmys and their movie counterpart. The Television Academy, which is based in Los Angeles, decides the winners at the Emmys. Here’s a look at their process.

Who Is the TV Academy?

The TV Academy only picks the winners of Primetime Emmys. The Daytime, Sports and Journalism Emmys are awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which is based in New York. While the two groups do work together, they are not the same organization. They do jointly own the Emmy Award name.

There are over 20,000 members of the TV Academy who are all split into 29 different groups based on their fields in the entertainment industry. You can join the organization if you are over 13, are currently active in the field, have been active in the field within the past four years or you have a significant body of work and membership was approved by a Peer Group Executive Committee. You can also join if you have received an Emmy nomination within the past four years.

Unlike the Oscars, where the entire Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences votes on the final winners, the Emmy winners are decided by the peer groups related to each category. For example, only actors are voting for the winners in the acting categories and only writers are voting for the writing categories. The only categories where every member votes are the top program categories like Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series.

As TV Guide points out, allowing all members to vote for their peer group and program categories is a new thing. Before last year’s Emmys, regular members were only able to make nominations and each peer group created “blue ribbon panels” of 70-80 members to pick winners in different peer group categories. This is no longer the case, since the Academy wanted to increase voter participation.

What Is the Eligibility Period & When Were Votes Due?

The Emmy eligibility period ran from June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016. So if you liked Netflix’s The Get Down and are wondering how it missed out on nominations, it missed the eligibility period. It will be eligible for the 2017 Emmys.

The nomination period ran from June 13 to June 27 and nominees were announced on July 14. Final voting began on August 15 and ended on August 29. Episodes were sent out to voters on August 8 so they could pick winners.

How Many Episodes are Winners Based On?

In this day of original programming everywhere, you might wonder how voters can watch everything. The Academy does try to make it easier for everyone by making episodes available online for them. Producers and networks pick six episodes from the series nominees for voters to watch.

As for performers, they get to pick which episodes they believe represent their best work during the season. Voters have to verify that they watched nominees they are voting for. The TV Academy has also created this handy infographic to explain how voting works.

The Emmys are on ABC, beginning at 7 p.m. ET with Jimmy Kimmel hosting.

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