Welcome to January, Primetime Emmys. I don’t think you’re going to like it there.
The announcement last week by the Television Academy and Fox that the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards was being pushed to Jan. 15, 2024 because of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes wasn’t a surprise, given that an Emmys without acting nominees and star presenters would be an unworkable ratings disaster for everyone involved.
But the movie has plopped the Emmys in unfamiliar territory that is already jammed with other awards shows. And it’s put the show in the unenviable position of being sandwiched in between other ceremonies that will be honoring more recent work, while the Emmys go about handing out awards for programs that aired anywhere from seven months to 19 months earlier.
When Emmy final voting begins, as it did on Thursday, we’re usually looking ahead about one month to the typical mid-to-late-September Emmys airdate. This year, we’re looking ahead five months – months during which the ballots will have been cast, campaigning will have stopped and the Emmys will hit pause and hope that the stars they want so badly will get back to work.
(FYI, I asked a Television Academy spokesperson if they planned to tally the votes after voting ends on Aug. 28 and then sit on the results for five months, or if they were going to keep the raw votes uncounted until next year. But I haven’t heard back.)
The Emmys will now take place on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15, during the same month as the Palm Springs Film Awards gala (Jan. 4), the BAFTA-Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party (6 or 13), the Golden Globe Awards (7), the AFI Awards (12), the Critics Choice Awards (14), the Sundance Film Festival (18-28) and the announcements of the Cinema Audio Society Awards nominations (9), the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations (10), the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild nominations (10), the Producers Guild nominations (12), the BAFTA nominations (18) and the Oscar nominations (23).
Some of those, including BAFTA, Sundance and the Oscars, are devoted entirely to film; the others also include television awards, with a 2023 calendar-year eligibility period instead of the Emmys’ June 1, 2022-May 31, 2023 eligibility period.
And that means these things could happen:
Meryl Streep could win a Critics Choice Award for “Only Murders in the Building” on Jan. 14 but be ineligible for an Emmy the next night.
Jenna Ortega could go the opposite direction, ineligible on Sunday for Critics Choice but a winner on Monday at the Emmys.
“The Bear” could win an award for its second season on Sunday and its first season on Monday.
“Only Murders” could win for Season 3 one day and Season 2 the next.
Whatever happens, the Emmys will look like an outlier going up against other awards shows that won’t even include many of the Emmy contenders.
Among the eight Outstanding Drama Series nominees at the Emmys, for instance, five will probably be ineligible for the Critics Choice, Globes and guild awards. “Better Call Saul” won’t be eligible because its final season aired in the summer of 2022. “Andor,” “House of the Dragon” and “The White Lotus” don’t qualify because their Emmy-eligible seasons aired in 2022 and their next seasons aren’t coming until 2024. “The Crown” is Emmy nominated for a season that dropped in November of 2022, and the premiere date of its next (and final) season is TBD.
Only three of the eight nominated shows – “The Last of Us,” “Succession” and “Yellowjackets” – will also be eligible for guild and critics awards; the other five will feel like old news even as they await their Emmy fate.
In the Outstanding Comedy Series category, “Barry,” “Jury Duty,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Ted Lasso” will be eligible for the same seasons that have also been nominated for Emmys.
“Abbott Elementary” will be eligible for other awards for the second half of its second season, which began in September of 2022 and ran through March of 2023.
“The Bear,” which was nominated for Emmys for Season 1, will be competing for other awards for Season 2; “Only Murders in the Building,” Emmy-nominated for Season 2, will be competing for other awards for Season 3.
And when you couple those older eligibility periods with the five-month gap between when final voting ends and when the winners are announced, months in which movies will dominat the awards landscape, the Emmys could feel downright irrelevant in January.
Now, the changing face of TV means that the Emmy show is not the kind of promotional tool it once was, when networks used the September date as a way to whip up enthusiasm for the traditional fall launch of television season. “Most of the shows are not relying on the Emmy ceremony, and most of the studios and distributors and networks and streamers are not necessarily reliant on the Emmy show happening to boost their particular show,” one PR executive specializing in awards told TheWrap. “So if you’re ‘Succession’ or ‘The White Lotus’ or ‘The Bear’ or ‘Shrinking’ or ‘Ted Lasso,’ you’re not relying on an Emmy telecast to boost ratings for those shows.”
But the Academy and Fox are counting on ratings for the Emmy show itself, which has set new records as the lowest-rated Emmys ever in four of the last five years. (Only 2021’s show was an increase over the previous year.)
And if you want something to give yourself a ratings boost, the question “What is this show doing in January?” probably isn’t what you’re looking for.