Tuesday, August 04, 2009

TCA: Emmy time-shifting plan attracts controversy

Over at NJ.com, I have a write-up on last night's Emmy press tour panel, which was largely devoted to discussing the controversial plan to time-shift eight of the awards this year.

27 comments:

Siddhartha said...



After the press conference, I asked Mischer why they wouldn't just time-shift and edit the whole thing. He said it's doable, but requires more people and skill than he's going to use on this show. But he also suggested that that might be the way of the future, not just for the Emmys, but perhaps for all awards shows.



Not in the age of twitter, when a winner can let the whole world know they won before the broadcast.

What % of folks would watch the Emmys if they already knew all the winners?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Someone asked about Twitter, re: the eight time-shifted awards. Mischer said he doesn't think the percentage of people who'd be reading about that on Twitter -- and would therefore not watch to see who won -- wouldn't be statistically significant.

Nicole said...

It sounds like a lot of navel gazing to me. The mini-series categories aren't exactly the top draws for the audience, and even if they did twitter about it, people would still watch for the major awards. They have been doing something similar for the Tony awards, some years having the early awards broadcast live on the internet, before the main show takes over. I watch a lot of television and I find that I often never heard of most of the mini-series nominees.

Making the Emmys relevant will take more than just rejigging the broadcast though. Tired old shows need to stop being nominated (e.g.Boston Legal) just for nostalgic reasons and then perhaps a larger audience will want to watch. However, with more choices, the audience is more fractured, and the "popular" shows are often horrible reality shows. The Oscars are running into the same problem too.

TL said...

Wouldn't it be pretty easy to flood the Twittersphere (Twitterverse? Twitterstan?) with disinformation?

Tracey said...

Time shifting... yeah, cuz that worked so well with the Olympics...

Anonymous said...

I'm good with timeshifting the whole thing. These are people in the entertainment industry but become the most boring people once they get on stage. Threaten to go to commercial as soon as the winner starts naming agents, hair stylists, manicurists, etc. Because that's when I change the channel. Or give all awards to the Brits. They all seem to know how to give a speech - short, to the point, and amusing.

Tracey said...

@TL: Only a twit would do that. Oh, yeah, right...

Rick said...

My suggestion: stop having the speeches immediately after the announcement of the winner. Do a half hour of announcements in technical categories, then a half hour of speeches by those winners. Then a half hour of announcements for acting, then a half hour of speeches by those winners. Finally, a half hour of announcements of directing/overall 'best' winners, then a half hour of speeches by those winners, then Doogie says some parting words, and we're done.
Everything stays live, the speeches are calmer and more focused, and there won't be any down time.

Karen said...

Mischer, meanwhile, more or less said they were doing this because Emmy ratings have suffered now that the nominations and awards aren't going to the most popular shows on TV, but to niche-y series like (though he didn't mention it by name) "Mad Men."

So, let me get this straight. The quality shows, the shows getting nominations and awards, aren't shows on the major networks. As a result, the "mainstream" audience who would watch the Emmys isn't interested in who wins, because the winners aren't shows appearing on the networks that air the Emmys.

Why not just air the Emmys on cable, then? Since that's where all the winners' viewers are going anyway?

Anonymous said...

Boo friggin hoo. The Emmy Award is about honoring good work. They're still getting their award. What they're not getting is a big televised build up to their win. Which is the same treatment that all of the people at the Creative Arts Emmys have been getting for years. The Emmy Awards Show, however, is about entertaining an audience. And it's an audience that doesn't care about tv-movies and miniseries and doesn't want to spend time watching nominees they've never even heard of.

I also think that the Emmys might take a cue from the Oscars and expand the number of nominees in the best series categories. For the Oscars it didn't really make sense to me (yes, lots of commerical movies are overlooked, but with good reason) but with the Emmys it would allow them to nominate their old favorites and be forced to add some new blood too.

Tyroc said...

On the west coast the whole show is time-shifted (as its not shown live.) So that part doesn't seem a big deal. I think the mini-series and made-for TV movies should get their own night and dinner or whatever anyway.

But the drama series writing award should be part of the main event, for sure.

JanieJones said...

Karen stated:
So, let me get this straight. The quality shows, the shows getting nominations and awards, aren't shows on the major networks. As a result, the "mainstream" audience who would watch the Emmys isn't interested in who wins, because the winners aren't shows appearing on the networks that air the Emmys.

Why not just air the Emmys on cable, then? Since that's where all the winners' viewers are going anyway?

I agree with you. Didn't HBO make a bid some time ago to air the Emmy's?
USA (NBC Universal) has been taking the ratings by storm and it's basic cable. Some shows are bringing in network like numbers. Now, with the exception of Tony Shaloub being nominated for Monk, none of the series had big nominations; however I think television is trending towards the better quality shows such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc.
Frankly, I would like to see the Emmy's on AMC, FX, HBO, SHO,- you get the point.
It's time for the networks to wake up and smell the coffee. Cable is becoming more of a staple. Subscriptions are up for premium channels.
However, I do not want to listen to long-winded speeches or see countless reality related subjects.
Quality vs. quantity!

alynch said...

Why not just air the Emmys on cable, then? Since that's where all the winners' viewers are going anyway?

Pretty much the only reason that the Emmys are doing this is because they want to avoid that. If they're on a broadcast network, they get a nice and lucrative license fee every year. If they're on cable, they'll still make money but not nearly as much. I'm sure we're all shocked that at the end of the day it's all about money, but there you go.

BF said...

If Emmy speeches were more like Greg Garcia or Tina Fey, I wouldn't mind giving them unlimited amounts of time. But so many of them end up being like (to pick one at random) David Chase.

You want more screen time? Step up your game, writers!!

gromalomus said...

Is there a way to leave a general comment? Or to comment about something specific but that is unrelated to the current post? I apologize in advance for posting here but....

Ryan W said...

I think the big crime in this mess is we will not get the chance to hear David Simon speak on live TV in front of the industry crowd.

Craig Ranapia said...

It sounds like a lot of navel gazing to me

Well, Nicole, you may be right. Then again, Mischer walked into a room of television critics and was basically a condescending arse towards the pointy-headed elitists who get off on "narrowcasting" that real people don't watch. What the frak was he expecting -- a gift basket and a make out session with the hot TV critic of his choice?

Personally,

Mario said...

There's a much easier, less controversial way to cut time. And it would make for more dramatic television:

Have the nominees on stage off to the side.

Winner only has to walk ten feet to the podium. Winners and losers have to interact, and wouldn't that create some interesting drama?

belinda said...

I might be mistaken, but why are the writers in the Drama series getting cut? I can kind of understand the shortening of tv specials, because it is a small category that few people give two craps about, but aren't the writers just as important (if not more) than the actors and directors in making a drama? It doesn't make sense at all for those writers to get the short end of the stick.

troopermsu said...

A few thoughts…
If HBO, AMC, FX, et al are upset that the categories in which they are strongest will be relegated to the time-shifted format, then I would suggest they pony up the dough and win the broadcast rights. The networks have a legitimate point about giving loads of free publicity to their cable rivals.

Having said that…if the networks would pick some of these shows for their own, then maybe we’d be talking about the fantastic writing on ABC’s ‘Mad Men’, for example. I would argue that the networks are the ones doing the narrowcasting just as much as any cable outlet.

The absolute worst part of any awards telecast is the acceptance speeches. I typically record the shows and I blast right through the speeches. I can watch the entire Emmy show in about 45 minutes. The worst is when the music drifts up when the speeches go too long. I think a more entertaining format would have the winner come to the stage and sit down and be interviewed by somebody. Think of it as a Letterman/O’Brien/Kimmel esque set up but with a better interviewer; someone that can glean some insight from the winner and also add some intelligent humor.

Speaking of intelligent humor…can we please stop giving the presenters the lame lines that they are forced to read off of the teleprompter? Just have the presenter introduce the nominees and then open the damn envelop. Leave the funny lines for the host or leave them out altogether. Let the host improve humor when needed. Seemed to work for John Stewart.

And instead of the nominees sitting in their seats while their names are read off just before the award is presented, have them all up on the stage prior to the award and introduce them for the audience applause. I think this would be more interesting and would save time because the winner would only need to walk across the stage to pick up the award rather than walk out from the audience. The losing noms might balk at the “embarrassment” of not winning but they’d get over that. Plus it would allow them to warmly congratulate the winner right on the spot. Might be worth a shot.

Also, there are too many awards given out on air. 28? That’s ridiculous. Most people couldn’t care less about most of the awards. Best drama, best comedy and acting awards are pretty much the only awards that people will talk about the next day. Sorry directors and writers and set designers and make up artists. We don’t know who you are and watching you get awards and listening to your boring speeches on live tv is a waste of time for most of us. I never heard of Don Mischer until this blog entry by Alan. And you writers, if you don’t like not being recognized: get in front of the camera. What are you gonna do, go on strike? Oh, wait a sec…

I think time-shifting the entire show would lead to a less exciting show. I think a live show is much more exciting. They just need to tighten it up. I’d even advocate a two-hour show rather than three.

As far as the ratings go, it’s a sad fact that only when top-rated shows are up for awards will the viewers follow. Unfortunately, the top-rated shows these days are crap like ‘Idol’ and ‘Dancing’. I understand the appeal of those shows but let’s face it: those are not great works of art. For whatever reason, today’s tv viewers don’t want to watch challenging shows that are a little bit more than simple entertainment. A monkey swinging on a bar is entertaining but I don’t want to watch it more than two minutes. Until the “reality” show phase is over, I’m afraid Emmy won’t get big audience numbers.

Anne said...

If you can write the year's outstanding achievement in drama to fit in a 48 minute timeslot, shouldn't you be able to create a punchy, colorful, exciting acceptance speech to fit in 48 seconds? When the writers' speeches are as exciting as their shows, the audience will be begging to see them live.

Perhaps each series should be limited to one nomination in the writing category, or the writing awards should be based on a series' season overall instead of individual episodes. How much ijnterest can the average viewer summon for a Mad Men-Mad Men-Mad-Men-Mad Men-Other Guy competition?

LA said...

"Perhaps each series should be limited to one nomination in the writing category, or the writing awards should be based on a series' season overall instead of individual episodes. How much ijnterest can the average viewer summon for a Mad Men-Mad Men-Mad-Men-Mad Men-Other Guy competition?"

So you are suggesting these awards be market-based? It's not interesting to the award show viewers if the writing on one show is consistently superior to others, so the superior writers should be punished?

I couldn't disagree with you more.

And don't forget that there are different writers for different episodes, so the writers on a given show are actually competing against one another. The whole writers' room doesn't get a trophy when episode blah-blah-blah wins.

wildflowermaven said...

I heard that what they really plan to do is add clips of the popular shows that haven't been nominated, or feature them in some way. Have you heard what they plan to expand with the time they are saving with this "time shift" scheme?

belle said...

Hm. Perhaps everyone who wins should just twitter their speeches.


Better yet, have the whole show be one big twitter-fudge. That would solve the time problem, and everyone can just not watch the show at all and just read the twitters.

It's ridiculous that the writers of Mad Men (and Lost) will not getting their limelight.

Hannah Lee said...

So, the Emmy PTB want to focus their awards show only on the popular shows / performers that might pull in an audience (excluding writers, niche categories and other things "the masses" might not be interested in)? Correct me if I'm wrong, but, isn't there already a People's Choice Awards, that in theory celebrates whats "popular"? Are those ratings that much better?

If the producers want a reason for declining ratings, perhaps they should look at the tendency to have predictable, repeat nominees and the fact that last year's Emmys were hosted by 5 reality show hosts who in no way celebrated the best of television, and weren't very entertaining. (Tom Bergeron tried, and Heidi Klum can be snarky, but that was just awful).

Personally, if I tune into the Emmys, it's to see entertaining articulate people at the podium (even if they're not a-listers) and the little moments of talented artistic quirky sparkle and interaction between writers, producers, actors, others(And to marvel at previously charismatic people who crash and burn in a live forum.) This includes those long moments when winners are slow to get to the stage because they're hugging (or snubbing) their coworkers, or struggling to get to the stage from the cheap seats. If I just want to see who wins, and only want to know about the popular kids and what they said, or see clips from shows, I've already got E! online, youtube, and numerous other outlets...I don't actually have to turn on my tv for that. NPH may be great, but I'm not going to tune in to watch him host a Two and a Half Men/L & O SVU/Boston Legal/American Idol/Big Brother marathon.

Plus, time-shifting opens the door for editing, which opens the door for editorializing and censorship. And censorship's just not cool.

krystle-ab said...

Years ago before I found the internet I watched the Emmy's religiously in order to find out what shows to watch the following year (as we usually had to wait a year or two to get American shows) Now I have the net so I don't really watch any more, except some years I may watch the last 30 minutes to see who wins the major categories. I don't see why the awards have to be televised at all anymore. Just stream it on the net so those who want to watch can. Or if it has to be televised let viewers chose which camera to watch like in sporting events. I would love to be able to watch the people who lose and see their reactions after that initial 5 second clap that we normally see.

dez said...

(Tom Bergeron tried, and Heidi Klum can be snarky, but that was just awful).


At least Jeff Probst had the good sense to be embarrassed.