ABC’s going country

CMA nods head to Alphabet

The CMA Awards kudocast is about to change its broadcast tune, moseyin’ from CBS and hitching a new pact at rival ABC.

Marketed as “Country Music’s Biggest Night,” the awards show has aired on CBS since 1972 after an initial three-year run on NBC. After one last year on the Eye, the CMAs are expected to hop to ABC in fall 2006.

According to insiders, the Alphabet web stepped up and offered the Country Music Assn. substantially more than the $9 million CBS had been paying annually in license fees.

With no “Monday Night Football” starting that fall, ABC may be on the lookout for big events to fill the void, particularly during November sweeps. The CMAs easily fit the bill, having been a solid performer for CBS over the years. (The telecast moved to November in 2001.)

In 2004 the CMA Awards averaged 18.5 million viewers, as well as a 5.9 rating/15 share in adults 18-49.

CBS will broadcast the 39th Annual CMA Awards from New York’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Eye continues to hold broadcast rights to the Academy of Country Music Awards, which are handed out in May.

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