Emmy campaign season begins with shipment of NBC DVD

Emmy campaign season officially began just days before Oscar winners were unveiled in late February when NBC, as usual, became the first contender to ship DVDs to TV academy members.

The screener featured episodes of NBC’s new fall series “Chicago Fire,” “Go On,” “Guys with Kids,” “The New Normal” and “Revolution” plus “The Mindy Project,” which airs on Fox, but is produced by Universal Television. Also included was a passcode to permit Emmy voters to view all of NBC’s rivals streaming at NBCAwardsScreeningRoom.com. The streaming option was first pioneered back in 2008 by NBC Entertainment EVP Richard Licata when he headed up Showtime’s Emmy drives and now it’s widely copied across the TV industry.

“Through the years, we’ve seen a huge escalation in people using the streaming site,” Licata tells Gold Derby. “Last year we had more than 50,000 hits.” In 2012, he also introduced another new innovation: an iPad app.

Now his latest campaign breakthrough reaches new Emmy heights. “This year we thought we’d take it 37,000 feet,” Licata adds. “We have a deal with American Airlines to show our Emmy contenders on flights between New York and Los Angeles in May when academy members are going back and forth to see network upfronts and in June during Emmy voting. We figured people are sitting there, captive, so let’s use the opportunity to show them our programs in case they were too busy to view them on TV or at our microsite. We’re always trying to make it easy for the voters.”

Licata isn’t shy about getting his contenders in voters’ faces. Again this year, he will tout them brazenly in huge promos plastered on the sides of double-decker busses and on billboards and electronic signs across Hollywood.

The TV industry pays careful attention and his Emmy rivals often copy his tactics because Licata reigns as one of the deans of the FYC craft. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, he pioneered early Emmy campaigning – first at HBO, then at Fox and Rogers & Cowan – and has had much success.

RELATED: See latest Emmy predictions by Gold Derby editors

When he was at Showtime in 2008, “Dexter” joined “Damages” and “Mad Men” as the first non-HBO cable show to be nominated for best drama or comedy series. One year later, “Weeds” popped up in the comedy contest, followed by “Nurse Jackie” in 2010. And he’s championed many wins, including Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Toni Collette (“United States of Tara”), Holly Hunter (“The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom”), Blythe Danner (“Huff”), Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”).

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Photo: Richard Licata (NBC)

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