As more award shows move to a January-December eligibility period, the Emmys have begun to feel like a real outlier. That's especially the case this year. In the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still throwing plans for fall events all out of whack, the Emmys had to go virtual while the rest of its awards brethren wait to see what happens later in the year and into 2021. Thankfully, that doesn't change the options for where to stream the 2020 Emmys — how the show is produced.
When the Emmys went from a small Los Angeles-based ceremony to one celebrating national broadcast networks, it aired on NBC. But by the mid-1960s, the Television Academy began a policy of rotating between the three primary broadcast networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS, to avoid the appearance of favoritism by having a "home network." When Fox debuted in 1987, the Emmys moved there as "neutral ground" for several years, until it became apparent the "fourth network" had become an equal to the other three.
Since 1995, the ceremony has been back in rotation, with NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS each getting a crack at it every four years. This year happens to be ABC's turn. As is now customary, that means there's a host pulled from the ABC ranks (Jimmy Kimmel), and inevitable cross-promotion with other brands owned by ABC's parent company, Disney. It also means that pandemic or not, streaming the Emmys is a something of a Disney-based affair.
Over-the-air watchers can tune in to ABC's station, of course, and cable users can log into ABC.com to watch it live online during the ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 20. But for those who are hardcore cord-cutters, the first place to turn is Hulu.
NBC, ABC, and Fox originally started Hulu as a joint venture. But Disney's recent acquisition of Fox and NBC's Peacock launch leaves Hulu as a pure Disney product. "Hulu with Live TV" subscribers can watch live on the ABC channel as the show broadcasts. Those who subscribe to regular Hulu will be able to stream one day later, on Monday, Sept. 21.
ABC is also available as a live channel via YouTubeTV and the recently rebranded AT&T TV Now, formerly known as DirecTV. Both come with access to all four broadcast networks, including ABC.
The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards will air live on ABC, on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. ET.