CMT Music Awards Post 58% Gain In Key Demo After Viacom Network Realignment

Sarah Hyland and Jessie James Decker at the CMT Music Awards Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

CMT, which came under the leadership of Chris McCarthy last November, put up strong results with its broadcast of the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday that McCarthy says offer proof the strategic shift is off to a good start.

Simulcast across CMT, Paramount, TVLand, MTV, MTV2, Logo and MTV Classic, the Nashville awards racked up 2.7 million total viewers, up 29% from last year. In the adults 18-34 demographic, they shot up 58% to a 0.99, a mark the company correlates with a 151% rise in social video views.

With an apples-to-apples comparison with the networks that aired the show last year, the total audience was flat but still ticked up 3% in 18-34.

“We knew country music is strong, but we didn’t know it was this young,” McCarthy, who oversees CMT, Logo, MTV and VH1, told Deadline. One key was packing the show with performances. McCarthy said the show has never had as many.

The company has recently realigned CMT and consolidated some of its staffers in various departments. It remains rooted in Nashville, and McCarthy said the nature of the show emphasizes fan interaction and social media. Viacom has long had a playbook for those activations at MTV, whose Video Music Awards are an early example of the TV bundle transcending the screen. It is now trying to replicate that across other networks and also bought Vidcon, an online video conference with similar properties.

“CMT has always had strong relationships with the artists,” McCarthy said. “This night was about letting that play out on a bigger stage.”

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