The network announced Thursday morning that it had scheduled its first airing of the CMT Music Awards for April 3, 2022, a declaration that follows quickly on the heels of ViacomCBS’ surprise revelation June 29 that the premiere of the annual awards show would be moving from its cable namesake, CMT, to its much larger broadcast sister.
With the CMT Music Awards moving from its usual June berth to a spring slot, what’s lost on no one is that April is the month that CBS had almost always broadcast the ACM Awards, until the network and the academy came to loggerheads over renewing their deal in recent months. CBS’ last broadcast of the ACMs was less than three months ago, on April 18.
Moreover, ViacomCBS announced “the company’s first ever Country Music Week” around the broadcast of the CMT Music Awards, with additional programs to air on CMT around the main event. This could presumably include some lead-up programs as well as what the company is calling an “exclusive director’s cut” of the awards show that will air on CMT and other cable properties some time after the live broadcast of the awards on CBS April 3.
A week of CMT Awards-related programming on ViacomCBS networks could be seen as sucking up some of the oxygen in the room for the nearly week-long series of events that the Academy of Country Music has held leading up to its April awards show, although those have traditionally taken place for attendees live in Las Vegas and not on the air.
The next move in this chess game may be the Academy of Country Music’s, as the org negotiates with other networks and determines whether to hold on to a spring slot or move to another time of year.
Negotiations for a renewal between the ACMs and CBS were said to have broken down after the show’s producer, Dick Clark Productions, reportedly asked for $22 million a year to reup the deal. ViacomCBS chose to instead move a less veteran, home-grown show, the CMTs, into that slot and devote its resources into a potential tentpole it fully owns.
The Academy of Country Music is reported to have been in negotiation with NBC, which does not have a country awards show on its lineup at present. ABC recently renewed its deal with the Country Music Association Awards, always held in November and long the biggest-rated of the annual country shows, although all of them have suffered ratings declines in recent years.
The ACM Awards could stick to spring and go nearly head-to-head with the CMTs, forcing performers to make some tough choices — and it’s not entirely clear how that would pan out, given the loyalty many have had over the years and decades to the Academy, which has been televising its awards since 1972. Or the org could play musical chairs and move into, say, the wide-open summer slot now abandoned by the CMTs.
If the ACMs were to blink and move to another season, that could be cause to rethink the longtime raison d’etre for holding the show in Las Vegas, as the show’s April positioning has allowed Nashville artists and execs a chance to have a kind of spring break out of town.
The Academy of Country Music does already hold a separate awards show at the Ryman Auditorium each summer, ACM Honors, which includes lifetime achievement awards and other non-competitive kudos, although most years (including the edition set for Aug. 25, where Luke Combs, Dan + Shaw and Loretta Lynn will be among those feted), the Honors show has not been televised.