The 2020 Emmy Awards Are Airing Live, Technical Difficulties Be Damned

Are the Emmy Awards live? Yes, they will be — thanks to a massive undertaking by producers of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards’ ABC telecast.


Sep. 20 2020, Updated 11:40 a.m. ET

are the emmy awards live
Source: Getty Images

The 2020 Emmy Awards air on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 20, and unlike other star-studded telecasts of COVID-19 times, the show will actually be airing live.

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Producers of these 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards made the decision to go virtual this year in July after the novel coronavirus pandemic disrupted their best-laid plans for an in-person ceremony. In a letter to acting nominees, they promised a show “filled with warmth and humanity, which celebrates the power of television to bring us together and to help us shape our world.”

They also asked nominees to dress up — if only a little! “Our informal theme for the night is ‘come as you are, but make an effort!’” they wrote, per Variety. Here’s the scoop on this year’s Primetime Emmys telecast.

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Are the Emmy Awards live?

jimmy kimmel primetime emmy awards
Source: Getty Images

The Emmy Awards are indeed live this year, which is no small feat. According to ABC News, Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel will emcee the ceremony from the stage of Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Camera feeds relayed from 130 nominees from 10 countries and 20 cities will capture reactions and acceptance speeches. And the Emmy producers are braced for gaffes, especially after Jason Bateman was mistakenly named a winner during the Creative Arts Emmy telecast on Saturday night.

“Things aren’t going to work perfectly all the time,” said Ian Stewart, a producer of this year’s show. “The good thing about that is we’ve got Jimmy Kimmel, who loves live TV and loves chaos. I think he’s actually hoping things do go wrong, to tell you the truth.”

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Source: Twitter

What time is the Emmy Awards tonight?

The 72nd Emmy Awards will air live coast-to-coast on ABC tonight, Sunday, Sept. 20, from 8 to 11 p.m ET and 5 to 8 p.m. PT. (If past Emmy telecasts are any indication, though, expect the ceremony to run into overtime.)

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If you can’t watch the show on TV, you can watch the livestream on Plus, the network will stream the ceremony for seven days afterward on and on the ABC app, though authentication is required.

You can also find broadcast information for other countries and territories on

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What are the Emmy Awards given for?

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — better known as the Television Academy — hands out Primetime Emmy Awards to honor excellence in primetime television over the past year — specifically, the beginning of June of the prior year to the end of May of the current year.

“The Primetime Emmy Award is a symbol of peer recognition from over 24,000 Television Academy members,” the Television Academy explains. “Each member casts a ballot for the category of competition in their field of expertise.”

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Source: ET/YouTube

The Primetime Emmy Awards are doled out to the producers of the most outstanding comedies, dramas, limited series, competition program, television movies, variety sketch series, and variety talk series; the most outstanding writers and directors of comedies, dramas, limited series, movies, and dramatic specials; and the most outstanding lead and supporting stars of comedies, dramas, limited series, and movies.

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There are other Emmy Award ceremonies, too: the Daytime Emmys, the Sports Emmys, the Engineering Emmys, the International Emmys, the Regional Emmys, and the News & Documentary Emmy Awards.

And as for Emmy herself? The statuette depicts a winged woman, representing “the muse of art,” holding an atom, representing the “electron of science,” according to the Television Academy. And winners aren’t kidding when they say the statuette is heavy: It’s made of copper, nickel, silver and gold, and it weighs 6 pounds and 12 ounces.

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