Emmy's 8:30 AM Wake-Up Call a Success, But Will Oscar Follow?

Cat Deeley, Uzo Aduba, 2015 Emmy Noms - H 2015
AP Images

Cat Deeley, Uzo Aduba, 2015 Emmy Noms - H 2015

Bucking tradition, the TV Academy moved a later start-time for its nominations announcement, but the Motion Picture Academy won't necessarily follow suit.

For years, both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have revealed their annual nominations at the pre-crack-of-dawn, holding their announcement ceremonies shortly after 5:30 a.m. to ensure they aired live on the three network’s morning news shows, originating on the East Coast.

But this year, the TV Academy chose to buck tradition, moving its July 16 announcement from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Pacific time. Although that meant sacrificing some coverage from the morning news shows, after reviewing the attention the big Emmy reveal did receive, TV Academy chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum judges the experiment was a success.

"I didn’t get one complaint about the move," he says. "There was no negative about the shift. Our coverage was equally, if not more, expansive this year than in prior years. And everyone was much more rested. So there’s no reason to think of moving it back to 5:30."

But that doesn’t mean the Motion Picture Academy will necessarily follow suit.

Inside the Academy, there haven’t been any discussions yet about how it will handle nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, which won’t be announced until Jan. 14, but the Motion Picture Academy has to factor in several considerations that weren't part of the TV Academy's own calculations.

For starters, the Oscars air on ABC, under a contract that extends through 2020, which could mean both the Academy and the network will continue to favor the customary early-a.m. announcement airing live on the East Coast during ABC’s own Good Morning, America.

In the case of the TV Academy, Rosenblum credits Jimmy Kimmel for leading him to question the traditional timing of the announcement.

Appearing, alongside Kerri Washington to present the nomination announcements in 2012, Kimmel walked out on stage in his pajamas. "They roused me out of bed in the middle of the night," he joked. "This could be just as good at noon, really."

That led Rosenblum to question why the announcement required press and publicists as well as Academy staffers to assemble well before dawn.

"One of the things we’ve been working diligently on at the Television Academy is to try not to follow a path, because that’s how it’s always done. It’s okay to take a fresh look at old habits," he says.

In this case, Rosenblum explains, while the goal was to make the sure the nominations news was disseminated as widely and quickly as possible, he also liked the idea of moving to an hour "that would be as humane as possible for all our colleagues working on the presentation."

While that meant losing the attention of the morning shows, "we’re now in a 24/7 news cycle," he says, "and once we announced at 8:30, the news was disseminated in real time. At 8:30, we got as much, if not more coverage, than we did at 5:30 in the morning."

Traffic on the Academy’s own Twitter account was up 118 percent, and on its Facebook traffic was up 228 percent. Viewers watching the nominations on the Academy website doubled from the prior year, the Academy reports.

While Twitter could not provide a comparison with last year’s nominations, Twitter Data showed that reactions and congratulatory #Emmys tweets began to build at 8:30 am Pacific as the announcement, hosted by Rosenblum, Orange Is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba and So You Think You Can Dance’s Cat Deeley began. And they peaked at 9:11 a.m. with about 1,600 tweets per minute.

CNN and local stations like KTLA and KTTV carried the announcement live, as did a host of websites. The three network morning shows didn’t cut into their West Coast feeds with any live coverage — given that the Emmy Awards will air this year on rival Fox on Sept. 20, there was no synergistic incentive for them to do so. But NBC’s Today Show did devote a segment, hosted by Carson Daley, on the Emmy noms the following morning, July 17. And ABC offered a streaming version of the awards announcement on its site at abcnews.go.com. Plus, the syndicated shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood all kicked into gear with their usual Emmy coverage.

There's another factor at play, though, that could affect the Motion Picture Academy's approach. This past February, the Academy introduced a new element in how it unveils its nominations. Instead of just announcing the top categories live, for the first time, it announced the nominations in all of its 24 categories, requiring two live segments on GMA. (By comparison, last week’s Emmy announcement, which took about six minutes, covered just the top 11 Emmy categories.)

Getting national airtime for all 24 categories was considered a coup by many within the Academy — particularly by those in the crafts categories, whose achievements don’t always figure in the limelight. And having established that new tradition, the Motion Picture Academy may not want to consider a later start time if that risks sacrificing some of the attention paid to all 24 categories last time around.

So, when it comes to the Oscar noms, everyone may still need to set their alarms.