As I look back on 2020, I am enormously proud of what the Television Academy has achieved under challenging circumstances.
Amid a nationwide call for social justice and a pandemic that has affected every aspect of our lives, the combined efforts of our board, committees, staff and members, as well as our media and corporate partners, have led to extraordinary accomplishments.
In a year that turned out be virtually all-virtual, it seems fitting that in January — when the coming pandemic was barely on our radar — we kicked off our first all-streaming FYC season. Having decided last year to stop distributing DVD screeners — to reduce costs for our industry partners and to give the planet a much- needed break — this spring we launched a state-of-the-art viewing platform where voters could stream all entries.
And the entries poured in. Between February, when we opened the online Emmy entry process, and June, when the entry period closed, we logged a record number of submissions — 16 percent more than ever.
By July, we were ready as usual to announce the nominations and did so in, yes, a virtual ceremony. With our high-energy host, Leslie Jones — and presenters Laverne Cox, Josh Gad and Tatiana Maslany — this early-morning event was much-viewed and talked about.
And over the coming weeks, we honored the nominees at a series of virtual get-togethers, where members shared pre-Emmy excitement. During this time, we also produced the first virtual Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, which led to our next big event: the Creative Arts Emmys. This extravaganza played out over five nights in September, culminating in a Saturday telecast on FXX.
Then, our night of nights — the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast — aired as scheduled, on September 20 on ABC. While host Jimmy Kimmel kept his cool — and kept the jokes coming — for three hours onstage at L.A.’s Staples Center, an elite production team managed some 140 feeds from around the world. The result was a crowd-pleaser that raised the technological bar for live, global television.
The Emmys also raised funds for a critical cause — the fight against childhood hunger — with the Academy and the night’s award-winning broadcast and streaming partners donating to the No Kid Hungry campaign. The Academy made donations as well to the Actors Fund Covid-19 relief fund and to our own Foundation, for its programs that preserve television’s history while educating the young people who will shape its future.
While all this was unfolding, most of the Academy staff had transitioned to work-from-home. That gave us the opportunity to install some health and safety measures at our North Hollywood, California, headquarters, such as a touchless entry system.
In the meantime, we have maintained all of our usual member services — and even added more. We have kept members informed through virtual peer group meetings and all-Academy discussions. We completed a redesign of TelevisionAcademy.com while also reaching out via social media. And you may have noticed a new series of essays and videos on our website, called “In My Opinion.” In this forum, we hope that members of underrepresented groups will continue to share their voices.
In that spirit of inclusion, we have also engaged a diversity consultant to assess our leadership, membership and staff and make recommendations to increase representation.
And the magazine, emmy , added an edition to its annual publication schedule, expanding editorial content as well as marketing opportunities during the busy FYC period. This is a partial list of our 2020 accomplishments, and as I review it, I am humbled by what we’ve done together. I am also filled with enthusiasm for the year ahead. Challenges remain, but I am confident that the Academy and our industry will continue to meet them and that we will all emerge stronger and smarter on the other side.
Chairman and CEO, Television Academy