Emmy Rule Changes: TV Academy Again Reconsiders "Hanging Episodes"

The Handmaids Tale Episodic 309 Still 2 - Publicity - H 2019
Sophie Giraud/Hulu

Episodes straddling eligibility can count for the current year if they’re available to voters early — though some miniseries may have to wait for the following year.

The amount of TV unloaded, both linearly and digitally, in the weeks leading up to the TV Academy’s May 31 Emmy eligibility deadline grows every year — but the series straddling that key date have been subject to fluctuating rules in recent years.

On Tuesday, the TV Academy announced it has passed new rule changes for the 72nd Primetime Emmys — including new and restructured categories, restructured departments and, most pressingly, tightened eligibility for series and limited-series episodes broadcast or posted after the deadline.

The “hanging episodes,” those that originally air after May 31, are eligible for the current year if they are made available for voters on the TV Academy’s private platform or an outlet’s proprietary platform. (Note the emphasis on streaming, as DVD screeners have been eliminated for 2020 Emmy voting). Those not available won’t be eligible. For limited series with hanging episodes not made available, the entire project won’t be considered until the following year — in this case, 2021.

Complete rule changes can be found on the TV Academy's website, but other new initiatives include a limit on entries for performers playing the same character in more than one series (not a common issue), a limit on who can vote for outstanding children’s program, the change of outstanding informational series or special to outstanding hosted nonfiction series or special and new vetting on self-published programming.

There also is a restructuring of fees for entries and a caveat that primetime efforts that are an extension of daytime projects will now only be eligible for the daytime Emmys.

As for departmental changes, the TV Academy’s awards department has merged with the membership department. Led by veteran staffer Julie Shore, the department has oversight of the board relations and membership department — which includes addressing member applications, peer group inquiries and awards entries.

In November, the TV Academy announced a January push to vet membership to ensure that only active and legacy members can vote for the Emmys moving forward.