It wasn’t just country fans tuning in — or rather streaming in — to watch the Academy of Country Music Awards on Prime Video Monday night. It’s a safe bet that among the viewers were a lot of producers and execs connected with other awards shows, wondering if they, too, might someday land an exclusive deal with a well-heeled streaming service, as the broadcast networks are less inclined to spend big money on these shows with diminishing ratings for nearly all of them.

Kudocasts being exclusively webcast instead of broadcast could be the wave of the future. Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios (pictured above with Dolly Parton), says that she believes “you’ll see more of it from our competitors as well.” But she adds that Amazon particularly, “given all the cross-verticals that are within our company, make it a great fit for this kind of thing.”

But don’t expect Amazon to be a sugar daddy for all awards shows that might come knocking: The company isn’t likely to pick up shows that can’t put the company’s synergy to use in encouraging further in-house streaming or purchasing.

“We’ve gotten calls over the years for various shows,” says Salke, but “I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all, like ‘We’re doing this show, so we would do these five others.’ You’d evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. This one felt like the perfect fit because of the country music audience that Amazon already is entertaining globally” — via Amazon Music — “and just because of the nature of the kinds of live entertainment we’re starting to lean into. But yeah, we’re seeing curiosity about it with other companies … I think there are things that organically fit that we feel can work with our company, and we can enhance the experience for fans, and then there are things that I don’t feel like we could possibly add more to it for fans.”

That may be the critical as lesser-rated shows like, say, the Tonys could someday go looking for a platform that will invest the kind of money it takes to put on a show like that without necessarily expecting having to get a certain share to justify its network existence every year. Then the question might be: Do the Tonys have anything to sell, or stream, that fits in with Amazon’s core businesses? Not unless they take over the TKTS booth or start livestreaming “The Music Man.” Film awards shows could also be complicated for Prime Video, which would wind up promoting movies that are streamed exclusively on other services and competing against its own.

But for music shows in particular, Prime Video and pop could be catnip for each other going forward.

“This was the first time in the history of Amazon that Amazon Studios, Prime Video, Amazon Fashion, Amazon Music, Amazon Live and Merch by Amazon have come together,” says Alaina Bartels, the head of talent synergy and special projects for Amazon Studios, whom Salke cites as the primary driving force at their company behind making the ACMs happen.

Given the synergy, it may already count as a win for all parties, numbers aside. And few are likely to get a gander at any numbers. Amazon reps said Tuesday it did not have any audience engagement figures to offer. Twitter didn’t have any stats or analytics to offer about Monday’s show, either (other than to note that the most-mentioned artists of the night on the app were Carrie Underwood, host Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson, Morgan Wallen and Miranda Lambert).

But it’s likely to count as a win for all involved, regardless. The Academy of Country Music was in a bind in 2021 when MRC and its longtime broadcast home, CBS, couldn’t come to terms on a renewal deal in the face of declining ratings. Going to ABC was not an option, as that network has the rival CMA Awards in the fall and couldn’t reasonably take on both. It looked as though it might be a buyers’ market for NBC — which likely was willing to put up considerably less than the reported $20 million annually that MRC had been looking to renew with CBS — when the shocking news came out in August that the ACMs had gone into business with Amazon and would be the first major awards show to forego being on traditional TV.

From 1988-2021, the ACM Awards aired on broadcast television, first on NBC (where it was originally called the Country Music Awards) and then moving to CBS in 1998. In its final year as a CBS awards show, the ACMs drew an all-time low of 6.3 million viewers on April 18, 2021, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day metric, reflecting the same kind of downturn being experienced by the Oscars, Grammys and nearly every other awards telecast.

The year prior, when it was broadcast on a Wednesday in September after delays due to the pandemic, the ACM Awards brought in a slightly higher 6.8 million viewers. That marked a significant drop from 9.9 million in 2019 and 12.1 million in 2018. Since 2006, which is when Nielsen began factoring DVR viewership into its ratings, the highest total viewer tally the ACMs brought in for CBS was 16 million viewers for its 2015 show.

With the show shifting to streaming, there was quietly some concern in the country community that some of the older demos that used to see the show on CBS wouldn’t have Prime Video or be completely certain of how to find the show online if they did. But Prime Video and the Academy have said they didn’t experience any misgivings from country artists about that.

The Nashville industry was “banging down the doors,” says Bartels, “because for that talent, it’s the first 360 experience across music, merch, content and really telling their story” via links on landing pages to further information.

She cites host Dolly Parton having had her first novel-co-written with James Patterson, go live on Audible the day of the show, following the release of her new album last week. But no QR codes to purchase these, or the hardback? “You will definitely see that in a few hours,” laughed Bartels. “Not on the live show, but the post-show.”

Parton was candid in discussing with Variety that a big reason for her returning to host the ACMs for the first time since 2000 was the opportunity for synergy. “They ask me all the time to host these shows,” she said last week, then noted her “Run Rose Run” novel and its soundtrack and how “you really try to connect those things. Everything’s about the business, as you know.”

Even without the opportunity to spur further sales or streaming, Salke says there are other benefits that country performers got from this year’s ACMs that they might not have otherwise. “To be able to have a live event on streaming where everyone can kind of have a communal cultural moment and share it really is the future for us,” she says. “The fact that this can be global opens it up to a much wider audience.”

Almost to a person, artists who were interviewed about the change on the red carpet Monday cited the simultaneous international audience that streaming allows as being a factor in being gung-ho about the move away from broadcast. It doesn’t hurt that country’s biggest overseas festival, the C2C fest in Britain, just wrapped up, and most of the genre’s savvier artists are aware that country is bigger than it’s gotten credit for in other territories and certainly has the most room for expansion outside of America.

“I do think it’s really cool that people all around the world can tune in and watch tonight,” said Tenille Townes. Normally, in her own home country, Canada, fans would have had to wait to see the show. “I know I’ve got a contingency of my Canadian family and friends that are so excited to be able to stream it tonight.”

With additional reporting by Jennifer Maas.