The CMA Awards will remain on ABC for another five years, as the network and the Country Music Association have extended their deal through 2026. The pact means the CMA Awards (dubbed “Country Music’s Biggest Night”) and specials including “CMA Fest” and “CMA Country Christmas” will continue on the Alphabet network through at least mid-decade.
“Continuing our long-standing relationship with CMA is a top priority and opportunity—together, we bring unforgettable experiences to our audiences that capture the heart and soul of the country music community,” said Rob Mills, executive vice president, unscripted and alternative entertainment, Walt Disney Television. “We look forward to delivering many more memorable moments with celebrated icons as well as aspirational artists and are proud to be the home for these incredible and distinguished specials.”
As part of the deal, it’s believed that the CMA telecasts will stream on Hulu after their initial runs, and that the Country Music Assosication will develop some potential programming for Disney Plus.
CMA and ABC last struck a 10-year deal in 2011 to keep their partnership going. The CMA Awards, which launched as a non-televised event in 1967, first ran on NBC, before moving to CBS from 1972 to 2005. ABC managed to swipe the show, the highest-rated of the country music awards telecasts, in 2006.
“Over the past 15 years, we have built a true partnership with ABC, and we are thrilled to continue our relationship through 2026,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA chief executive officer. “As television viewers are now consuming content in so many new and exciting ways, we are eager to work with the entire ABC team on creating additional paths to bring country music to audiences everywhere. As our genre continues to evolve and broaden, we look to this partnership as a key driver in expanding country music’s reach.”
As awards shows have been hit with tremendous declines this past year, the most recent CMA Awards, in November 2020, averaged 7.1 million viewers in live ratings on ABC, down from 11.3 million in 2019 — making it an all-time low for the ceremony. The show posted a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49, down from 2.0 a year prior.
In comparison, the rival Academy of Country Music Awards, which aired in April on CBS, averaged 6.1 million viewers and a 0.8 in the demo.
ABC reported that when all views were ultimately counted, the CMA Awards delivered its biggest Wednesday audience of the season in entertainment, “reaching more than 21 million viewers and generating nearly 9 million social video views across Facebook and Twitter.”