The wife-and-husband team of Fox Sports’ Lindsay Czarniak and NBC’s Craig Melvin will host next week’s Sports Emmy Awards. The two will emcee the event from their Connecticut home, where Melvin has taped Today appearances and Czarniak filmed segments of NASCAR Race Hub, as the media world adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the 41st annual event Tuesday, they’ll be joined by eight presenters and more than 100 nominees videoing in from across the country. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will stream the show on its new, dedicated video platform, powered by Vimeo. Typically held in New York City, the event was scheduled for April before being postponed.
In addition to the technical challenges, the Emmys will also seek to address a sports media industry deeply impacted by COVID-19. This week, NBC’s regional networks from Boston to the Bay area were the latest to suffer through layoffs. More than 50 Fox Sports employees were let go in July in a move reportedly not directly tied to the pandemic.
“We’ve all had good friends laid off,” Sports Emmys executive director Justine Gubar said. “We’re just hoping next Tuesday night can be a chance for the community to stop, catch their breath and celebrate all the hard work they did last year.”
NATAS has been impacted as well. After initially booking a venue for a potential September show, the organization decided to only hold virtual events for the rest of the calendar year. “We did not want people to have to do the calculus of, Do I risk my life to go to the Emmys,” Academy president and CEO Adam Sharp said. The loss of in-person events led to a $4 million hit across the business.
While working from home, Sharp has helped lead the process of converting the live event to a virtual one. Tuesday’s presenters will be receiving the official results in sealed envelopes, which themselves are sealed within a larger envelope that itself is included in an overnight post. Meanwhile, nominees will spend time in virtual green rooms divided by category. Ionoco’s PATH platform is being used on the backend to bring everyone together.
The technical hurdles involved in streaming live from all of their locations is a big reason why the show broke with recent tradition and decided to have hosts this year, Sharp said. Czarniak and Melvin will provide some glue for a show that otherwise will be bouncing around the country, and a backup option (including backup envelopes) in case of hiccups.
In March, nominees were announced across 42 categories, including a new Outstanding Esports Coverage category. Ernie Johnson and Mike Emrick were both nominated with a chance to repeat last year’s wins for Outstanding Studio Host and Play-by-Play Announcer, respectively. Lesley Visser will become the first woman to receive the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The trailblazing sportscaster, who has been at CBS for decades, was the first woman to report from a Super Bowl sideline and the first to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.