The Primetime Emmy Awards generally air in mid-September, on the Sunday before the official start of the fall television season. They are currently seen in rotation among the four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). Because of NBC’s coverage of Sunday Night NFL Football beginning in September, when NBC has had the rotation in 2006, 2010 and 2014, the Primetime Emmy Awards moved to late August for those years only.
Among the Primetime Emmy Award rules, a show must originally air on American television during the eligibility period between June 1 and May 31. In order to be considered a national primetime show, the program must air between 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., and to at least 50 percent of the country. A show that enters into the Primetime Emmy Awards cannot also be entered into the Daytime Emmy Awards or any other national Emmy competition. For shows in syndication, whose air times vary between media markets, they can either be entered in the Daytime or Primetime Emmy Awards (provided they still reach the 50 percent national reach), but not in both. For game shows that reach the 50 percent threshold, they can be entered into the Daytime Emmy Awards if they normally air before 8 p.m (including the former “access hour” from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.); otherwise, they are only eligible for the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Entries must be submitted by the end of April, even if a show is not scheduled to originally air until the following month when the eligibility period ends in May. Most award categories also require entries to include DVDs or tape masters of the show. For most series categories, any six episodes that originally aired during the eligibility period must be submitted (programs that were cancelled before airing their sixth episode are thus ineligible). For most individual achievement categories, only one episode is required to be submitted; if an episode is a two-parter, both parts may be included on the submitted DVD.
Ballots to select the nominations are sent to Academy members in June. For most categories, members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees only in their respective categories. All members can however vote for nominations in the best program categories. The final voting to determine the winners is held in August, and is done by judging panels. In June, the Academy solicits volunteers among its active members to serve on these panels. All active members may serve on the program panels; otherwise they are restricted to those categories within their own branch.