TV Academy Changes Emmy Rules for Comedy, Drama Series

The Television Academy announced a slew of new voting rules for the Emmy awards, including further defining what can be entered as a comedy or drama series.

The TV Academy now defines series with episodes of 30 minutes or less as a comedy and series with episodes longer than 30 minutes as a drama. The Academy says producers may petition a new nine-member panel for eligibility in an alternative category. Showtime’s hour-long series Shameless was submitted as a comedy for last year’s Emmy awards after previously being entered as a drama series. This also means that Netflix's hour-long comedy Orange Is the New Black will have to vie for awards against dramas.

The Academy is expanding the number of nominees for the Comedy and Drama series categories from six to seven, due to the increase in the amount of original series on TV.

The Academy also defined a mini-series — or limited-series, which the category has now been changed to – as programs with two or more episodes that total at least 150 minutes and “tell a complete, non-recurring story, and do not have an ongoing storyline and/or main characters in subsequent seasons.” This comes after HBO submitted its anthology series True Detective in the drama series categories, instead of the mini-series categories, where similar shows such as FX’s American Horror Story and Fargo were submitted.

The Variety Series category has now been split into two: A Variety Talk and Variety Sketch category. The Variety Sketch category will now be part of the Creative Arts Emmy program.

Finally, only performers appearing in “less than 50%” of a program's episodes are now eligible to submit in the Guest Actor category.

The rules will take effect this year. Fox will air the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 20.