An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, recognizes excellence in the television industry, and corresponds to the Academy Award (for film), the Tony Award (for theatre), and the Grammy Award (for music).[2][3]

Because Emmy Awards are given in various sectors of the American television industry, they are presented in different annual ceremonies held throughout the year. The two events that receive the most media coverage are the Primetime Emmys and the Daytime Emmys, which recognize outstanding work in American primetime and daytime entertainment programming, respectively. Other notable Emmy Award ceremonies are those honoring national sports programming, national news and documentary shows, national business and financial reporting, and technological and engineering achievements in television, including the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards. are also presented throughout the country at various times through the year, recognizing excellence in local and statewide television. In addition, are awarded for excellence in TV programming produced and initially aired outside the United States.

Three related but separate organizations present the Emmy Awards: the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (IATAS).[4] Each is responsible for administering a particular set of Emmy ceremonies.[5]


The Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) established the Emmy Award as part of an image-building and public relations opportunity.[5] The first Emmy Awards ceremony were presented on January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club, but solely to honor shows produced and aired locally in the Los Angeles area. Shirley Dinsdale has the distinction of receiving the very first Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Television Personality, during that first awards ceremony.[5]

In the 1950s, the ATAS expanded the Emmys into a national event, presenting the awards to shows aired nationwide on broadcast television. In 1955, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) was formed in New York as a sister organization to serve members on the East Coast, and help to also supervise the Emmys. The NATAS also established regional chapters throughout the United States, with each one developing their own local Emmy awards show for local programming.[5] The ATAS still however maintained its separate regional ceremony honoring local programming in the Los Angeles Area.[6]

Originally there was only one Emmy Awards ceremony held per year to honor shows nationally broadcast in the United States. In 1974, the first Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony was held to specifically honor achievement in national daytime programming. Other area-specific Emmy Awards ceremonies soon followed. Also, the International Emmy Awards, honoring television programs produced and initially aired outside the U.S., was established in the early 1970s.[5] Meanwhile, all Emmys awarded prior to the emergence of these separate, area-specific ceremonies are listed along with the Primetime Emmy Awards in the ATAS' official records.[7]

In 1977, due to various conflicts, the ATAS and the NATAS agreed to split ties. However, they also agreed to share ownership of the Emmy statue and trademark, with each responsible for administering a specific set of award ceremonies.[5] There was an exception regarding the Engineering Awards (those honoring individuals, companies, or to scientific or technical organizations in recognition of significant developments and contributions to the engineering and technological aspects of television): the NATAS continues to administer the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards, while the ATAS holds the separate Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards.

With the rise of cable television in the 1980s, cable programs first became eligible for the Primetime Emmys in 1988[8] and the Daytime Emmys in 1989.[9] In 2011, the ABC Television Network cancelled the soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live, and sold the two shows' licensing rights to the production company Prospect Park so they could be continued on web television; this prompted NATAS to create a new Daytime Emmys category for the 2013 ceremony to honor such web-only series.[10] The ATAS also began accepting original online-only web television programs in 2013.[2]

Emmy statuette

The Emmy statuette, depicting a winged woman holding an atom, was designed by television engineer Louis McManus, who used his wife as the model. The TV Academy rejected a total of forty-seven proposals before settling on McManus' design in 1948. The statuette "has since become the symbol of the TV Academy's goal of supporting and uplifting the art and science of television: The wings represent the muse of art; the atom the electron of science."[12]

When deciding a name for the award, Academy founder Syd Cassyd originally suggested "Ike", the nickname for the television iconoscope tube. However, "Ike" was also the popular nickname of World War II hero and future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Academy members wanted something unique. Finally, television engineer and the third academy president, Harry Lubcke, suggested the name "Immy", a term commonly used for the image orthicon tube used in the early cameras.[12] After "Immy" was chosen, it was later feminized to Emmy to match their female statuette.[12]

Each Primetime Emmy statuette weighs six pounds, twelve-and-a-half ounces (3.08 kg), and is made of copper, nickel, silver and gold. The statue stands 15.5 inches (39 cm) tall with a base diameter of 7.5 inches (19 cm) and weight of 88 oz (2.5 kg). The Regional Emmy Award statuette is 11.5 inches (29 cm) tall with a base diameter of 5.5 inches (14 cm) and weight of 48 oz (1.4 kg). Each takes five and a half hours to make and is handled with white gloves to prevent fingerprints. The Regional Emmy Awards are made by Society Awards, a New York-based company that also makes the Golden Globe Awards. The Primetime Emmy statues are manufactured by R.S. Owens & Company based out of Chicago, Illinois which is also charged with manufacturing the Academy Award statues.[13][14]

As its trademark owners, the ATAS and the NATAS hold firm rules on the use of the "Emmy" image as well as its name. For example, the Emmy statuette must always appear facing left. Any copyright notice for the statue should read "ATAS/NATAS", listing both academies. Academy members must also obtain permission to use the statue image or name for promotional uses even though they are winners of the award. Furthermore, DVDs of Emmy-winning shows may reference the fact that they received an Emmy, but cannot use the statue image unless it is capable of being removed from all copies after one year after the award is presented.[15][16]

Area-specific ceremonies

The Emmys are presented in various area-specific ceremonies held annually throughout the calendar year, ranging from honoring nationally televised shows to regionally and locally produced programs. Each ceremony has their own set of nominating and voting procedures, along with different rules regarding voting committees. Also, the various ceremonies each have own set of award categories, and it is not uncommon for them to have some of the same names (e.g. Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series and Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series).

A show that enters into one of the national Emmy competitions cannot also be entered into any of the others. For example, syndicated shows whose air times vary between media markets may be eligible for both the Daytime and Primetime Emmys, but cannot enter in both.[17] In general, a show is considered national if it reaches more than 50 percent of U.S. households; programs that do not reach at least 50 percent of the country may enter into the Regional Emmys instead. Web television shows are treated similar to syndicated shows: they must be available for downloading or streaming by more than 50 percent of the US national market to be eligible in one the national Emmy competitions, and they can only enter into one of those national Emmy ceremonies.[18]

Regardless of which area-specific ceremony one wins an Emmy, all winners are called an "Emmy Winner".


A typical calendar of the major Emmy ceremonies is as follows, with the dates listed being those in 2016:

Date in 2015CeremonyAcademy in charge
January 867th Technology and Engineering Emmy AwardsNATAS
May 143rd Daytime Emmy AwardsNATAS
May 1037th Sports Emmy AwardsNATAS
September 1868th Primetime Emmy AwardsATAS
September TBA37th News and Documentary Emmy AwardsNATAS
November 2144th International Emmy AwardsIATAS

Primetime Emmys

The Primetime Emmys are presented in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming. Ceremonies generally are held in mid-September, on the Sunday before the official start of the fall television season, and are currently broadcast in rotation among the ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox networks.

Some award categories presented to behind-the-scenes personnel such as art directors, costume designers, cinematographers, casting directors, and sound editors are awarded at a separate Creative Arts Emmys ceremony held a few days earlier.

The Primetime Emmys are run and voted on by members of the ATAS. For most categories, members from each of the ATAS' branches vote around June to determine the nominees only in their respective categories. All members can however vote for nominations in the best program categories. The final voting to determine the winners is held in August.

Daytime Emmys

The Daytime Emmy Awards, generally held in June, are presented in recognition of excellence in American daytime television programming. The first daytime-themed Emmy Awards were given out at the primetime ceremony in 1972, but the first separate awards show made just for daytime programming was not held until 1974.

Like the Primetime Emmys, a separate Creative Arts Emmy ceremony is also held a few days earlier to honor the behind-the-scenes personnel working in daytime television.

The Daytime Emmys are run and voted on by members of the NATAS. Voting is done by peer judging panels. Any active member of the NATAS, who has national credits for at least two years and within the last five years, is eligible to be a judge. Depending on the category, voting is done using either a ratings score criteria or a preferential scoring system.[19] All the drama acting categories have an addition preliminary voting round called the "pre-nominations", where one or two actors from each show is selected to then move on and be considered for the primary nominations for the awards.[3]

Sports Emmys

The Sports Emmy Awards are presented for excellence in sports programming. The awards ceremony takes place every Spring, usually sometime in the last two weeks in April or the first week in May, and is held on a Monday night in New York City.

Voting is done by peer judging panels. The NATAS solicits anybody with significant experience in national sports production to serve as judges. The panels are organized so that they only have one representative from each corporate entity (i.e. CBS Corporation, Disney, NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner etc.) Most categories only have a single voting round using preferential scoring system. The top 5 entries in each category are announced as the "nominations", and then the top entry is announced as the Emmy winner later at the awards ceremony.[21]

News and Documentary Emmys

The News & Documentary Emmy Awards are presented for excellence in national news and documentary programming. The awards ceremony takes place every Fall.

Voting is done by peer judging panels. The NATAS solicits anybody with significant experience in national news or documentary reporting or production to serve as judges. Most categories have two voting rounds, with separate judging panels in each round. The top entries in each category are announced as the "nominations", and then the top entry is announced as the Emmy winner later at the awards ceremony.[22]

Engineering Emmys

The Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards presented by the ATAS and the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards presented by the NATAS are two separate ceremonies that honor individuals, companies, or to scientific or technical organizations in recognition of significant developments and contributions to the engineering and technological aspects of television.[3][24] Each academy has its own separate panel of highly qualified, experienced engineers in the television industry to determine their respective award recipients.

Among the ATAS's Engineering Emmy Award repertoire is the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award, given to honor companies who have significantly affected the state of television and broadcast engineering over a long period of time.

Regional Emmys

There are 20 total regional chapters located across the United States that each conduct regional awards to recognize excellence in all the regional television markets, including state to state programming as well as local news and locally produced shows. Nineteen of the regional chapters are affiliated with the NATAS,[3] while the Los Angeles-based ATAS acts as the regional chapter serving the Los Angeles area.[6][3]

In general, a show is considered regional if it does not reach more than 50 percent of U.S. households; programs that reach more than 50 percent of the country must enter into one of the national Emmy competitions instead.

The Regional Emmys are essential in helping NATAS and ATAS honor the works of deserving individuals in local TV through a regional outreach. Like the national awards, each region goes through their own rigorous nomination and voting procedures. Committees are formed to review entries for eligibility and high standards. Once accepted, each entry goes before different review committees, and their votes are cast to determine the final nominees. The final votes are then calculated by certified accounting firms within each region. Regardless of winning on a national or regional level, all recipients are "Emmy Award" winners.

Originally, each Regional Emmy Awards ceremony primarily focused on only honoring individuals in local news programming.[5] The regionals have since been expanded to encompass all locally and state to state-produced shows that receive less than fifty percent of the country's viewing audience.

Regional chapterStates in region
Boston / New EnglandMaine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; Most of Connecticut
Chicago / MidwestParts of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin
Highlands Ranch / HeartlandsColorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma; Parts of Wyoming
Dallas / Lone StarTexas; Parts of New Mexico
Los Angeles (ATAS)Los Angeles only
Brecksville / Lower Great LakesParts of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
Southfield / MichiganMichigan
Arkansas / Mid-AmericaArkansas, Iowa, and Missouri; Parts of Illinois and Louisiana
Delaware / Mid-AtlanticDelaware; Most of Pennsylvania; Parts of New Jersey and Ohio
Nashville / MidsouthNorth Carolina, Tennessee
Maryland / National Capitol/Chesapeake BayMaryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
New York / New YorkNew York; Parts of Connecticut and New Jersey
Alaska / NorthwestAlaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington
Kentucky / Ohio ValleyKentucky and West Virginia; Parts of Indiana and Ohio
San Diego / Pacific SouthwestMost of Southern California; Parts of Nevada
Arizona / Rocky MountainArizona and Utah; Most of New Mexico and Wyoming; Parts of Southern California
San Francisco / Northern CaliforniaNorthern California and Hawaii; Parts of Nevada
Atlanta / SoutheastMississippi and South Carolina; Most of Alabama and Georgia
SuncoastFlorida; Parts of Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia
Minnesota / Upper MidwestMinnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota; Parts of Nebraska and Wisconsin

International Emmys

The International Emmy Awards are presented annually since 1973 by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, to television programs that have been produced and transmitted outside the United States. The award ceremony takes place in New York City.

By 1963, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences began to honor the programming produced outside the United States with an best international program award. Responsible for the International Relations Committee of the Academy, Ted Cott noted that the goal was "to promote international understanding and draw attention of the American public to television programs produced and presented in different countries around the world."[27]

The winners in the first years include War and Peace, a dramatization of the Leo Tolstoy novel, produced by ITV Granada in 1963. Les Raisins verts (RTF) in 1964, and Le Barbier de Seville of CBC in 1965. Initially no there were distinctions and only one prize was delivered. For the 1965 competition two categories were created, fiction and nonfiction, and a year later renamed entertainment and documentary.

Co-founder of the International Academy, Ralph Baruch became international head of CBS in the 1960s to him, it was evident that the three major U.S. networks were not much interested in programming foreign. In order to promote interest in such programming, Baruch thought it would be good begin to "awarding" the best international programming.

Founded in 1969, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is an organization of leading media and entertainment figures from over 50 countries and 500 companies from all sectors of television including internet, mobile and technology. The Academy was founded with a mission to recognize excellence in television programming produced outside of the United States. The first International Emmy Awards, as we know them today, were carried out in 1973, two years after the formation of the Council. The Baruch himself organized the first award ceremony, held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The event was attended by about 200 guests.[3]

At the time there were only two categories, one for fiction, won that year for La cabina, of Televisión Española, and a non-fiction award, won that year by the BBC for Horizon: The Making of a História Natural Film. The categories of fiction and non-fiction continued until 1979, when new awards were introduced and other categories were created. Replacing the previous two, now there were awards for best drama series, documentary, performing arts and popular arts programs. In 1983, the children's programming category was introduced to International Emmy Awards, given to Fraggle Rock from CBC.[3] In 1989, a sixth category was presented: Arts documentary, the winner that first year was Gwen-A Juliet Remembered, produced by Saffron Productions for BBC.[27][4]

Until 2007, the International Emmy only rewarded art program, children's program, actor, actress, comedy, documentary, current affairs program, news, drama series, reality show and miniseries. In 2008 was created the category of best telenovela, recognized by the institution as "a universal phenomenon."[4] The International Academy also recognizes US primetime programming produced 50% or more in non-English languages, with a new category added to the 2014 International Emmy Awards competition.[4]

By regulation of the award, a television station or their representatives may never vote in the categories in which they are competing. The Academy does not participate in the trial. Who evaluates the registered programs are about 600 television professionals from 40 countries. The whole process is audited by Ernst & Young.[4]

Currently, the awards are presented at the International Emmy Awards Gala. Held each year in November at the Hilton Hotel, New York City,[4] the Gala attracts over 1,200 television professionals, who gather to celebrate excellence in television and network with their peers. The three Interactive categories are awarded in a separate ceremony held during MIPTV in Cannes.

There are twenty one program categories for the International Emmy Awards:[4]

  • Current Affairs
  • News
  • Digital Program: Children & Young People
  • Digital Program: Fiction
  • Digital Program: Non-Fiction
  • Kids: Animation
  • Kids: Factual
  • Kids: Preschool
  • Kids: Non-Scripted Entertainment
  • Kids: Series
  • Kids: TV Movie/Mini-Series

Every November the Academy produces The International Emmys World Television Festival and the International Emmy Awards Gala in New York City. The Festival screens the current year's International Emmy-nominated programs and features the world-class producers and directors who speak about their work. The International Emmy Awards Gala takes place the day after the Festival, awarding the International Emmy. This black-tie event attracts over 1,000 major figures in broadcast, entertainment and media from around the world.[4]

College Television Awards

The College Television Awards are presented in recognition of excellence in college student-produced works. Students nationwide can submit productions and receive recognition in such categories as Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Music, Newscasts, and Series.[4] Entries are first judged by members of the ATAS specializing in each respective field. Winners are then selected by Blue Ribbon Panels.[4] Any work submitted must include a form signed from a faculty advisor to verify that it was produced for a school related group, project, or class.[4]

Other Emmys

  • Public Service—for public service announcements and programming to "advance the common good"
  • The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, awarded by the ATAS Board of Governors to an individual in the industry whose humanitarian work have a lasting impact on society.[40]
  • The Governors Award, the highest award presented by the ATAS, honors the achievements of an individual, company or organization whose works stand out with the immediacy of current achievement.