DAYTIME EMMYS: Rule Changes for Daytime Drama and Digital Drama Related Categories

The 48th Annual Daytime Emm Awards, Christel Khalil, Jason Thompson
CBS/NATAS; JPI Studios

With “The 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards” airing next month on CBS, and with nominations expected to be released relatively soon, we thought we’d highlight some rule changes in advance of the announcement for those wondering what changes there might be for this year’s awards show so that there isn’t any confusion and/or any surprises on the day the nominations are revealed.

First things first, The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which is the awarding body for the Daytime Emmy Awards, is continuing to make gradual changes to the Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series category. Previously known as the Outstanding Younger Actress and Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series categories until the 2019-2020 contest period when they were combined, this singular gender-neutral category will be seeing a reduction in eligibility age after this year’s 2020-2021 contest. Traditionally, to be eligible for this award a performer had to be under 25 years of age. Starting next year, however, it will be lowered to 21 and for 2023, it will be lowered again to 18. NATAS notes that “Younger Performer entrants are permitted to enter this category an infinite number of times while they are under 18, but once they turn 18, they are permitted to enter only three times before being moved to either Lead or Supporting. Being age-qualified to enter Younger does NOT mean an entrant is required to. Lead and Supporting acting categories are also open to performers under the age of 25.”

While there has been much talk in year’s past about who received a pre-nomination in the weeks and/or months before the full nominations announcement, that didn’t happen this year. That’s because a rule change for this year indicated there would be no pre-nominations round and that all entrants in the Drama/Daytime Fiction Acting Categories had to submit their videos by the entry deadline — February 17, 2021. “All entrants should submit their video by the deadline, where categories will undergo Preliminary and/or Blue Ribbon Judging in accordance with all other categories. There is no second video submission” reads the rule on this matter.

There has also been further merging of the Drama Craft categories that include hairstyling, sound mixing and editing, costumes, and makeup, among others. Last year, the organization began merging craft areas where Drama contenders did not have enough entrants to keep the categories “viable.” According to NATAS, rules for this year state “the remaining craft categories have been combined to allow entrants from Dramas and Daytime Fiction Programs.” The following crafts have now been merged: Costumes, Makeup, Hairstyling, Sound Mixing and Editing (now combined, as per above), and Technical Team.

Merged last year, Music Direction and Composition, will be merged again to include all Drama, Fiction, and Non-Fiction eligible content (e.g. only Children’s and Animation is disallowed in this category).

Additionally, all formerly Drama-only craft categories are now open to Drama and Fiction Daytime Programs.

The Outstanding Digital Drama Series category has been renamed to Limited Drama Series. Eligibility remains mostly the same except that the maximum number of episodes has been lowered from 35 to 22 episodes.

The newly created Fiction Daytime Program genre encompasses Limited Drama Series (formerly Digital; 22 episodes or less per year), Short Form Fiction Program (for content 15 minutes or less), Young Adult Series, and Daytime Fiction Special. A new category under this genre includes the Younger Performer in a Daytime Fiction Program which is a non-gendered acting category for performers ages 18 and under with a lead, supporting, or guest performance on a Daytime Fiction Program. NATAS notes that Series and Specials both qualify for this category and that Performers can turn 18 in the calendar year 2020 and still qualify.

As always, to be eligible for a Daytime Emmy Award, a program must have been available for viewing by at least 50% of US Television households and have aired between January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. For digital series, the content must have been made available via an online platform fitting any of the various category and genre descriptions contained in the Daytime Emmy Awards contest. Eligibility is subject to review pending final contest placement approval.

So, when the nominations come out, make sure you take note of which categories are new, merged, or eliminated as these changes will surely put a damper on the total number of nominations each show receives this year and going forward.

“The 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards” airs Friday, June 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.