How Emmy Award Winners Are Chosen
Taylor Williams
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in prime time television in the United States, are just around the corner. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, with a live broadcast of the awards airing on Fox at 8 p.m. ET.
The final season of HBO's Game of Thrones outpaced all contenders with a record 32 nominations. HBO also topped the nominations for a comedy with the second season of Bill Hader's Barry earning nine major awards nods, while Ava Duvernay's Netflix miniseries When They See Us topped the nominations for a Limited Series/Television Movie with 11. Ahead of the Emmy Awards ceremony, we've broken down the process for how winners are chosen by the more than 24,000 members that make up the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.


To earn a nomination for an Emmy Award, a program, performer or individual achievement has to be submitted for consideration by the members of the Television Academy. Once all submissions are received, members of the Television Academy vote on which entries they feel exemplify excellence in their respective categories. Emmy Awards are broken down into three categories, all of which are voted on by different factions of the Television Academy. The three categories are programs, performers and individual achievements.
Nominations for programs are voted on by all 24,000+ members of the Television Academy for the 16 sub-categories that individual programs can be submitted into, such as Drama Series, Comedy Series, Limited Series, Television Movie, Variety Talk Series, Variety Sketch Series, Reality Competition, Short Form Series, etc.
Nominations for performers and individual achievements are voted on by the specific peer groups that encompass the specific entries. Performer peer groups vote on Lead Actress, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Guest Actress, and Guest Actor, while individual achievement peer groups vote on directing, writing and other areas of achievement such as cinematography, casting, costumes and hairstyling.
Once all the votes are submitted, they are tallied and hand-checked by Ernst & Young accountants before being announced publicly. This year's nominees were announced by The Good Place's D'Arcy Carden and Community's Ken Jeong on July 16. The nominees were selected out of more than 9,100 entries across 124 total categories, a record for the Television Academy.
Although not considered part of the official process, network campaigns are undoubtedly a key facet in obtaining nominations. Networks routinely spend tens of millions of dollars every year campaigning for nominations. In fact, experts projected in March that this could be the most expensive Emmy Arms Race to date, with HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, among others, all battling it out to obtain the most nominations. After all, a well-designed campaign can help to increase exposure for a network, while solidifying its brand and drawing in talent for future projects. It's also a quick and easy way of ensuring that voters have viewed the network's programming when voting begins.
An interesting tidbit ahead of this year's ceremony is that acting nominees Alfie Allen, Carice van Houten, and Gwendoline Christie all had to self-submit themselves for consideration for the final season of Game of Thrones. This is contrary to their counterparts who also received acting nominations, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, all of whom had their respective performances submitted by HBO. While networks typically submit only those they feel have the best chance to obtain a nomination, the Television Academy does recommend that eligible individuals submit themselves for consideration ctheir network doesn't.


After the nominees are announced, members of the Television Academy set out to select the nominee that best exemplifies excellence in the given category. This is again achieved by a vote. The nominees for performers and individual achievements select what they feel to be their best work of the season for voters to vote on, while producers select which episodes should be considered for nominated programs. Comedy and Drama series each present six episodes, while Variety, Documentary, Reality and Animated series present one. Children's Programming presents two episodes and Limited Series are required to present all episodes.
Emmy voters are eligible to vote for all of the program categories and in the non-program categories for which their respective peer group is allowed to vote. Votes are cast online and voters must verify that they have viewed the content prior to submitting their ballot. This year's voting deadline was on Aug. 29.
Once all ballots have been submitted, they are tallied and hand-checked once again by Ernst & Young accountants before official winners are determined using Emmy's math. Once the winners have been determined, their names are printed and sealed within secure briefcases which are then hand-delivered by Ernst & Young accountants to the Microsoft Theater where the ceremonies will take place and the winners will be announced.
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will air live on Fox at 8 PM EST on Sept. 22. The 71st Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards will take place over two nights on Sept. 14 and 15 and a broadcast can later be viewed on FXX on Sept. 21 at 8 PM EST.