Awards Shows Explained

Awards Shows Explained

Every year, across film, theater, TV and music, there are so many awards shows and honors — anyone who can keep track of them all deserves a statuette of their own. From proving Cleveland rocks with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to Animator film awards (the Annie’s) to off-Broadway theater’s best (the Obie’s), it’s a whirlwind of accolades.

So here, DIRECTV opens the ballots and spotlights the premier (and only slightly less-premier) awards shows across film, TV, music and theater — and then offers a look at who may be the next to win the highest honor of them all, the elusive EGOT. 

Not a DIRECTV customer yet? Let’s fix that!


Academy Awards

What it is: Needing little introduction, the Oscars are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and recognize film excellence in 23 categories, ranging from Best Picture to Best Makeup and Hairstyling. 

Next ceremony: March 10

Prestige level: As big as it gets. The Oscars are arguably the premier awards show in the United States.

How winners are chosen: Oscar winners are determined by the votes of more than 9,000 AMPAS members. These voters are organized into 17 specialized branches of the filmmaking process who choose winners in those categories. 

Fun fact: Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is more commonly known as an Oscar — but no one, including the Academy, is quite sure why. One legend suggests that Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick thought it resembled her Uncle Oscar and Academy staff began referring to it as such. The Academy made the nickname official in 1939.

Golden Globes

What is it: The ultimate underdog to the Oscars and the Emmys, the Golden Globes recognize achievements in 14 motion pictures categories and 13 in TV categories. While it may not boast the same prestige as other honors, the Globes kick off the awards season with flair, holding its ceremony in early January.

Most recent ceremony: Jan. 7 

Prestige level: The Golden Globes might never rise to the ranks of its more august film or TV brethren, but the Globes ceremony — full of scathing humor from hosts and possibly tipsy winners on stage — is more fun than either of those two.

How winners are chosen: For almost 80 years, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the selections. However, following a scandal over ethics and lack of diversity, the awards were sold to new owners last summer. In 2024, the revamped Globes voting body consisted of 300 journalists from 76 countries.

Fun fact: Moët & Chandon has been the Official Champagne Of The Golden Globes for nearly 30 years. According to a press release celebrating the enduring partnership, “In the last quarter century almost 200,000 glasses of Moët have been raised” at the event. That works out to nearly 8,000 glasses each year. Cheers!

Producers Guild of America Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards & Screen Actors Guild Awards

What are they: The Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards, Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards and Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by SAG Awards® (@sagawards)

Awards honor excellence in film and TV. However, because of where they fall in the calendar — after the Emmys, and just weeks before the Oscars — their main allure comes from their ability to predict upcoming Academy Award winners.

When are they:

DGA: Most recently February 10

SAG: February 24

PGA: February 25

Prestige level: While these awards often go untelevised (the SAG awards will be streamed live this year on Netflix), they hold a significant place of honor within the industry.

How winners are chosen: Guild members themselves vote for the awards. PGA has over 8,000 member-voters; DGA boasts more than 18,000 members; and SAG, being the largest and most diverse, has over 130,000 performers represented by the SAG-AFTRA union determining the honors.

Fun fact: The PGAs’ Outstanding Producer category predicted 15 of the past 20 Best Picture Oscar winners. The DGAs successfully predicted the Oscars’ best director 67 times in the past 75 years. Approximately 75% of SAGs’ big four acting category winners have gone on to win those categories again at the Academy Awards.



What is it: The Recording Academy annually celebrates the best in the music arts and sciences, making this one of the four major American entertainment awards shows, along with the Oscars, the Emmys and the Tonys.

Most recent ceremony:  February 4

Prestige level: Recognizing achievements in categories such as Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year, the Grammys are heralded as “Music’s biggest night.” 

How winners are chosen: Winners are selected by voting from approximately 11,000 members of the Recording Academy.

Fun fact: In the 1950s, when the decision was made to create an awards show for music, the original idea was to name them the Eddies, in homage to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph. However, a mail-in contest led to the current name (and statuette), paying tribute to the gramophone. 

Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM), Country Music Association Awards (CMA) &CMT Music Awards

What they are: The three main country music awards are easy to confuse, but the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and Country Music Association awards (CMA) are the two with the most significance. The ACMs were launched in 1966; the CMAs were born the following year. The CMT Music Awards went through numerous reinventions since first being created in 1967; the awards show, as it appears now on Country Music Television, took shape in 2005.

Next ceremony:

ACMs: May, exact date TBD

CMAs: November, exact date TBD

CMT Awards: April 7

Prestige level: Rapidly growing, with ABC broadcasting the CMAs, Amazon streaming the ACMs since 2022 and the CMT Awards garnering nearly 5.5 million viewers last year.

How winners are chosen: ACM Awards are decided by members of the Academy of Country Music; CMA Award winners are chosen by more than 6,000 members of the Country Music Association; CMT Music Award winners are entirely determined by fan voting.

Fun fact: The 2023 ACM Awards, hosted by Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, brought in more than 7.7 million viewers on Prime Video, plus additional viewership across Amazon’s streaming channels. It was one of the most-watched awards shows of the year. 

MTV Video Music Awards

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MTV (@mtv)

What is it: The Video Music Awards (VMAs) gained a reputation for memorable pop-culture moments, from Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s kiss to Britney Spears and Madonna’s kiss to Kanye West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. While the actual music may take a backseat at MTV’s awards show, the VMAs promise to have people talking the next day.

Next ceremony: Estimated September, exact date TBD

Prestige level: Let’s be honest: Who really cares? The VMAs are all about messy fun.

How winners are chosen: MTV selects the nominees, and fan voting on MTV’s website and social channels — for the major categories — determines the winners.

Fun fact: Because wins are largely driven by fan engagement, some critics argue that the VMAs are essentially a popularity contest. True or not, Beyoncé holds the title of the all-time winningest VMA artist, with 30 moonmen statuettes. Taylor Swift is second, with 23.

American Music Awards  & Billboard Music Awards 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by billboard (@billboard)

What they are: Two of the historically prominent music awards shows have fallen on hard times. In 2023, these two battled over a November airdate, and the American Music Awards (AMAs) — created by Dick Clark in 1973 — went on indefinite hiatus. Last year, the BMAs underwent a revamp of their own, streaming the ceremony from various venues worldwide instead of a single arena. The event was not able to secure a broadcast partner; it was made available on Billboard’s website and social platforms.

Next ceremony:


BMAs: projected Nov. 

Prestige level: Rapidly declining and potentially disappearing altogether.

How winners are chosen: The AMAs stood out as one of the few significant awards shows where winners were chosen by fans, reflected in the frequent use of the term “Favorite” rather than “Best” in its 29 category titles. Billboard’s winners are determined by a complex mix of artists’ performance on the Billboard charts, album and digital song sales, radio airplay, streaming and social engagement.

Fun fact: This hiatus represents a significant fall for the AMAs, once considered a strong competitor to the Grammys. In the ’80s, the AMAs even surpassed the Grammys in ratings for a few years, sparking speculation that an AMA award might surpass a Grammy as music’s most prestigious honor.


Emmy Award

What is it: Generally synonymous with the Primetime Emmy Awards (as opposed to the Daytime Emmy Awards), the “Emmys” stand as the most prestigious accolade in TV.

Next ceremony: September 15

Prestige level: Arguably second only to the Oscars among any awards show.

How winners are chosen: The Primetime Emmys are under the care of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, boasting a membership of over 15,000 people divided into more than two dozen peer groups with specialized fields. Members within each peer group vote for both nominees and winners.

Fun fact: First conceived in 1949, the famous statuette had a design —a winged woman holding an atom — before it had a name. The suggestion for the name “Immy” came from the Academy’s then-president, inspired by the image-orthicon camera tube crucial to the technical development of television. The name was feminized to “Emmy” to align with the statuette.

Critics’ Choice Awards

What is it: This film and TV awards show celebrates winners as chosen by American and Canadian broadcast, radio and online critics, along with entertainment journalists who reviewers.

Most Recent ceremony: January 14, one day before the Emmys. 

Prestige level: Consider this the Golden Globes’ little brother. Founded in the 1990s, the Critics Choice Awards don’t share the Globes’ long history, and while they have occasionally jockeyed for position on the awards show calendar, the Critics Choice Awards generally follow the Globes by a week. 

How winners are chosen: Awardees are selected through the votes of 600 members of the CCA. 

Fun fact: The Critics Choice Awards air on the CW, the sole non-sports live event currently featured on the channel.


BET Awards

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by BET Networks (@bet)

What is it: Launched in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television network, the BET Awards stands as a vibrant celebration of Black culture, encompassing music, film and sports. Calling it “essential to the black pop culture zeitgeist,” then-Los Angeles Times staff writer Gerrick D. Kennedy once penned an essay that said, “For a community that has long felt like its creative forces are marginalized when it comes to mainstream recognition and being considered for major awards, this show is a heaven.”

Next ceremony: June; exact date TBD.

Prestige level: Exceptionally high for viewers valuing its cultural relevance and celebration.

How winners are chosen: Nominees and winners are chosen from an academy of 500 handpicked voters, including entertainment professionals and influencers in music, media, sports journalism, public relations and more.

Fun fact: Beyoncé’s breakthrough moment came at center stage of the BET Awards in 2003, when she delivered her first-ever solo performance. She announced herself as a tour de force with Crazy in Love.

People’s Choice Awards

What is it: This one is “For the People, By The People,” according to the People’s Choice Awards (PCA). Over 1.5 billion fans participate by casting digital ballots on the PCA website across categories encompassing movies, TV and music. Then-host Keenan Thompson may have said it best in 2001: the PCAs is “kind of like the Oscars. Except it’s movies that people have actually seen.”

Most recent ceremony: Feb.uary18. This year, the PCAs shifted the 2024 show from its traditional December slot to the heart of awards season.

Prestige level: While not exceptionally high, the PCAs have endured as a recognition of pop-culture since 1975, outlasting many other awards shows.

How winners are chosen: Nominees across nearly 50 categories are identified with the assistance of market research firms. These nominees are then presented on the PCA website and social channels, allowing fans to cast their votes.

Fun fact: Ellen DeGeneres has won the most PCAs, with 20.


Tony Award for Theater

What is it: The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, widely known as the Tony Award, is presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. The awards span more than two dozen categories and stand as the ultimate recognition of excellence in live Broadway theater.

Next ceremony: June 16

Prestige level: The one and only. There are myriad other theater awards, but all pale in comparison to this one.

How winners are chosen: Honorees are selected by more than 800 members from a collection of prestigious theater organizations and media outlets.

Fun fact: The Tony Award pays homage to Mary Antoinette “Tony” Perry, the founder of the American Theatre Wing and a notable actor and director. The trophy itself features a spinnable medallion adorned with faces depicting the comedy and tragedy masks. The medallion is mounted on a black base with a pewter swivel.

EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony

The pinnacle of achievement in the entertainment industry isn’t a single award. Rather, it’s the accumulation of all four major awards — an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony — known as an “EGOT.” Only 19 people have ever managed the feat, most recently Elton John, whose Emmy came last year for Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium. It was voted the year’s outstanding variety special.

More than three-dozen performers stand on the precipice of EGOT glory, however. Among them are iconic performers including Paul McCartney (needing a Tony), Helen Mirren (Grammy) and potential icon-in-the-making Lin-Manuel Miranda (Oscar). In fact, Miranda may be the odds on favorite to complete an EGOT next, having received a pair of Best Original Song Oscar nominations for How Far I’ll Go from Moana and Dos Oruguitas from Encanto.

The content is featured on is editorial content brought to you by DIRECTV. While some of the programming discussed may now or in the future be available affiliates distribution services, the companies and persons discussed and depicted, and the authors and publishers of licensed content, are not necessarily associated with and do not necessarily endorse DIRECTV. When you click on ads on this site you may be taken to DIRECTV marketing pages that display advertising content. Content sponsored or co-created by programmers is identified as "Sponsored Content" or "Promoted Content."