Nashville beat the odds, becoming a rare canceled broadcast series to find a second life on cable. A day after CMT announced that it has picked up a fifth season of the country music drama series, from Lionsgate and ABC Studios, ABCS EVP Patrick Moran talked about the deal during the Peak TV panel at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX.

“There are a lot of people that spend a lot of time looking at the economics of these shows,” he said. “It’s a giant puzzle that you put all theses pieces together that you hope covers the cost of the show and a little extra. It’s tricky when each one of those line items gets tighter.”

PatrickMoran

It’s never easy to take a broadcast drama and make it work on a cable license fee, especially when it is a smaller cable net such as CMT. The dual streaming next-day play on Hulu for Nashville will help as will the fact that CMT has ordered a broadcast-size 22-episode fifth season instead of the cable staple of 10-13 episodes a year. Still, it was a close call.

“I’m so happy we were able to keep [Nashville] alive but the economics were tight,” Moran said. “I’m happy we were able to make this work with Hulu and CMT.”

Nashville has a devoted fan following similar to other series that found new homes after cancellation including Longmire and Community. That helped, Moran said.

“I do think if there is a certain degree of passion for some of these shows it helps in keeping some momentum and some traction,” he said. “But it is a complicated equation and you do feel the pressure of it not making as much money” and “costing more.”

It is unclear if all regulars on Nashville will continue full-time. When budget adjustments are made as a series moves from broadcast to cable there often are trims, especially for a show with a large ensemble cast like Nashville.