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The first Emmy award ceremony took place on January 25, 1949. The first daytime-themed Emmy Awards were given out at the primetime Emmy awards ceremony in 1972, when The Doctors and General Hospital were nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Daytime Drama. That year, The Doctors won the first Best Show Daytime Emmy. In addition, the award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in a Daytime Drama was given to Mary Fickett from All My Children. A previous category "Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Programming" was added once in 1968 with individuals like Days of Our Lives star MacDonald Carey nominated. Due to voting rules of the time, judges could opt to either award one or no Emmy, and in the end they decided that no one nominated was deserving of the golden statuette. This snub outraged then-Another World writer Agnes Nixon, causing her to write in The New York Times, "...after viewing the recent fiasco of the Emmy awards, it may well be considered a mark of distinction to have been ignored by this group."
Longtime General Hospital star John Beradino became a leading voice to have daytime talent honored with special recognition for their work. The first separate awards show made just for daytime programming was broadcast in 1974 from the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center in New York. The hosts that year were Barbara Walters and Peter Marshall. For years, the gala was held in New York, usually at nearby Radio City Music Hall, with occasional broadcasts from Madison Square Garden. In 2006, the Daytime Emmys was moved to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, the first time they had ever been held outside of New York. The Kodak Theatre also hosted the 2007 and 2008 ceremonies, before it was moved again in 2009 to the Orpheum Theatre across town. In 2010 and 2011, the Daytime Emmys were instead held in Las Vegas. From 2012 onward, the Daytime Emmys have been held at various venues in Los Angeles, never to return again to New York (most likely as a reflection of the current state of American daytime dramas, where all New York-produced network soap operas have since been cancelled, and the ones left on the air are being recorded in Los Angeles).
Due to the relatively small talent pool in daytime television, it has become common for the same people to be nominated repeatedly. The most infamous of these is All My Children star Susan Lucci, whose name became synonymous with being nominated for an award and never winning, after having been nominated 18 times without receiving an award before finally winning a Daytime Emmy for Best Actress in 1999.
In 2003, in response to heavy criticism of bloc voting in favor of shows with the largest casts, an additional voting round was added to all the drama acting categories. Known as the "pre-nominations", one or two actors from each show is selected to then move on and be considered for the primary nominations for the awards.
With the rise of cable television in the 1980s, cable programs first became eligible for the Daytime Emmys in 1989. In 2013, in response to All My Children being moved from broadcast to web television, NATAS began accepting nominations to web-only series. The ATAS also began accepting original online-only web television programs in 2013.
Among the Daytime Emmy rules, a show must originally air on American television during the eligibility period between January 1 and December 31. In order to be considered a national daytime show, the program must air between 2 a.m. and 6 p.m., and to at least 50 percent of the country. A show that enters into the Daytime Emmys cannot also be entered into the Primetime 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 Emmys (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 Emmys if they normally air before 8 p.m (including the former "access hour" from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.); otherwise, they are only eligible for the Primetime Emmys. For web television shows, they must be available for downloading or streaming to more than 50 percent of the country, and like shows in syndication they can only enter in one of the national Emmy competitions.
Entries must be submitted by late December. Most award categories also require entries to include DVDs or tape masters of the show. For example, most series categories require the submitted DVD to include any one or two episodes that originally aired during the eligibility period.
Voting is done by peer judging panels. Any active Academy member, who has national credits for at least two years and within the last five years, is eligible to be a judge. Depending on the category, voting is done using either a ratings score criteria or a preferential scoring system.
The show originally aired during the daytime hours (except for the 1983 & 1984 awards, which weren't telecast) but moved to prime time in 1991. Many special events have aired before the live telecast in an attempt to grab households tuning in for the awards. ABC/Disney's SoapNet cable channel, which formerly aired special programming revolving around the Daytime Emmys in the month before the show, broadcasts a red carpet special before the awards ceremony, and a post-show. This was not done in 2012 due to ABC's near-withdrawal from the format and SoapNet only existing as an automated feed for cable systems not carrying its replacement network, Disney Junior. When NBC hosted the awards shows, it would air special one-off episodes of their soap operas, such as Another World: Summer Desire. During the past three turns for CBS, the network has used the first hour to carry The Price Is Right specials, a United States Navy primetime special, and, in 2007, a repeat of that morning's final episode with original host Bob Barker.
For many years, the show was produced by one of its own Lifetime Achievement honorees, Dick Clark. Each show from 2004 to 2008 was produced by White Cherry Entertainment.
In August 2009, The CW broadcast the Daytime Emmys for the first time, despite that network not having any daytime programming, due to the other networks declining to carry it. The airing delivered the ceremony's lowest ratings ever (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.72m), but it did outperform The CW's weak averages on the night that summer. The second time around, Associated Television International brought the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards to CBS, as well as the 38th, the following year. On May 3, 2012, it was announced and confirmed that HLN would air the 39th ceremony on June 23, 2012. In that ceremony, an additional non-Emmy award was awarded by the program's social media partner, AOL, for Best Viral Video Series. With 912,000 viewers (not counting four repeat broadcasts which brought the total to 2 million), the broadcast was "the most watched regularly scheduled, non-news telecast" ever on HLN, but by far the least-watched Daytime Emmy ceremony ever.
For the first time in the event's four-decade history, the 2014 Daytime Emmy ceremony was not broadcast on TV and instead aired only online, but the Daytime Awards telecast eventually returned to television the following year thanks to a two-year deal with basic cable channel Pop. However, for 2016, the Academy announced that ceremony would not be televised for the second time, citing the "current climate for awards shows".
Daytime Emmys are awarded in the following categories:
^"NBC's 'Santa Barbara' Is Top Daytime Emmy Winner". Los Angeles Times. 1989-06-30. Retrieved . In the first year that they were eligible for Daytime Emmys, cable programs did not win any during Thursday's ceremonies. But the cable industry had picked up four of the golden statuettes at the non-televised [Creative Arts Emmy Award] event last Saturday
^"63rd Primetime Emmys Rules and Procedures"(PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved . Syndicated programs that have reached a cumulative audience of at least 50% of the total potential U.S. television audience during the eligibility period, but not 50% exclusively in Daytime or Primetime, may enter either in Daytime or Primetime, but not in both