It may seem counterintuitive that June’s annual CMT Music Awards would not premiere on CMT each year, but the formerly cable-only only show is moving up in the world, as it’ll move to the CBS prime-time schedule beginning in 2022.
It probably isn’t coincidental that CBS and the Academy of Country Music Awards have recently gone through a fairly public breakup, creating the opportunity for the network to look no further than within its own ViacomCBS house for a rebound romance. Moving the CMTs to ViacomCBS’ namesake network allows CBS to put all those resources into an in-house franchise and not pay the mammoth licensing fee that was a sticking point in ACM re-up negotiations.
If the usual June date for the CMTs were to hold, it would not be that far off from the April date that used to be set in stone for the ACMs on CBS every year. But speculation suggests that CBS may want to move the CMTs out of the summer and into the spring. The CMT Awards were traditionally held at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on the eve of the city’s annual CMA Music Festival, but the ability to easily draw a live audience on that June date may have little reason for continuing given larger considerations at play in the move to CBS.
ViacomCBS had recently been boasting about ratings wins for this month’s CMT Awards, which were seen not just on the titular network but MTV, MTV2, Logo, Paramount Network and TV Land. Although ratings for all awards shows have been taking, the CMTs have been close to alone in at least seeing an uptick in 2021 from the previous year, with a 10% increase in total viewers and a 32% increase in P18-34 ratings.
This month’s show was hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini and included a much-socialed duet between H.E.R. and Chris Stapleton as well as performances by Carrie Underwood with Needtobreathe and Mickey Guyton with Gladys Knight and Breland. A tribute to Black country pioneer Linda Martell was much applauded throughout the country community.
CBS had reportedly spurned a request for $22 million a year from Dick Clark Productions to renew the ACM Awards on the network, where the show has aired since the late 1990s. NBC is being seen as the most likely landing place for the ACMs, as ABC already has the highest-rated of the annual country awards shows, the Country Music Association Awards, and Disney and the CMA announced less than two weeks ago that that deal was being renewed through 2026. If a deal between NBC and DCP goes down, it will mark the first time in history that all three of those major broadcast networks have had a franchise country awards show on the annual schedule.