Are The 2020 Emmys Live Or Pre-Recorded? Here’s What We Know

The Emmys are one of the last awards shows to still not run on a Jan-Dec eligibility schedule. The most prestigious awards in TV still function off the old "TV season" of Sept-May. This doesn’t matter in most other years, but the coronavirus pandemic threw it into sharp relief. Most other awards could delay since the year was disrupted in early March, the Emmys eligibility period was nearly over. With the show going on as planned for September, fans are curious how the socially distanced ceremony will work. For instance, are the 2020 Emmys live or pre-recorded? It’s complicated.

The Emmys’ disruption isn’t just about a single three-hour show broadcast on Sunday. The Emmys are among the broadest awards in the entertainment world, encompassing everything from 30-second internet shorts to 30-hour PBS documentary series. What most people see when they tune into the Primetime Emmys are the top 10% of the statuettes rewarded. The other 90 are relegated to a two-day affair held the weekend before, known as the Creative Arts Emmys.

With all these ceremonies moved to a virtual space, the Emmys have made a full week of it. The Creative Arts Emmys are being given out in bursts all week, starting from Monday, Sept. 14, through Thursday, Sept. 17, and then the rest on Saturday, Sept. 19, ahead of Sunday’s Sept. 20 Primetime broadcast. And so far, what fans have seen of the Creative Arts ceremony suggests the Primetime show will be a mix of pre-taped and live segments.

Some of this comes from the Creative Arts bloopers, which have plagued the first two nights of awards. For instance, one winner’s acceptance speech was pre-taped. Viewers know because the two-time awardee taped both acceptance speeches back to back on one video, so both speeches played after the first trophy. (Oops.) And the "In Memoriam" clip has played twice so far during the Creative Arts ceremony, the same segment both on Monday and Tuesday.

These are signs that suggest at least parts of the Primetime Emmys will be pre-taped. But the thing about the Creative Arts Emmys is that they’re not airing live on broadcast TV the way the Primetime awards do. According to Good Morning America‘s reporting, the Primetime Emmys are trying to keep stuff as live as possible, with 140 locations being filmed simultaneously on Sunday night. Each nominee will be broadcasting from their homes, plus Jimmy Kimmel will be virtually hosting from the Staples Center with potential surprise guests.

The 72nd Emmy Awards ceremony begins on ABC at 8 pm. ET on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

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