Nashville makes its CMT debut Jan. 5, kicking off season five on cable after four seasons on ABC. Produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, the country music drama starts with a two-hour premiere. As part of the show’s new deal, Hulu will stream new episodes the day after they premiere on CMT.
When the deal to save Nashville was announced in June, Brian Philips, CMT president, called Nashville “a perfect addition to our evolving line-up of big music specials, documentaries, and original series. We see our fans and ourselves in this show and we will treasure it like no other network.”
The fourth season attracted more than 8 million weekly viewers across all platforms, according to CMT, and drew women 18-34 in particular.
Nashville is executive produced by Marshall Herskovitz, Ed Zwick, Steve Buchanan and Callie Khouri, with CMT head of development Jayson Dinsmore and Morgan Selzer, VP of development, joining the executive producer ranks on behalf of the network.
It’s rare, but not unheard of, for a broadcast show to continue with new episodes on cable. Cop drama Southland made the move from NBC to TNT in 2010, while Law & Order: Criminal Intent shifted from NBC to USA in 2007. Ratings expectations for Nashville on basic cable will be lower than what they were on the broadcast tier.
Among other 2017 debuts on CMT, Million Dollar Quartet, about young Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis jamming in Memphis under the tutelage of Sam Phillips, premieres in March. Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Thinkfactory Media with Leslie Greif as executive producer and Gil Grant as executive producer and showrunner. Roland Joffé directs while Dinsmore and Julia Silverton, CMT VP of development, are executive producers for CMT.
Still the King, starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Joey Lauren Adams, returns for a 13-episode second season in the spring, though a date has not been announced. The comedy premiered June 8.
CMT is making a significant push into scripted originals. “After a promising start with Still The King, we now have a clear path in attracting new audiences with our scripted programming,” said Dinsmore. “Beginning with Nashville in January, each series will help launch the next, creating an overlay to cycle viewers through our originals year round.”
CMT has also ordered a pilot for His Wives & Daughters, which it describes as a "soapy, comedic series center(ed) on the eclectic and cunning wives and daughters of larger-than-life country music legend (and infamous womanizer) Eddie Ray Banks." The pilot is created and produced by Dina Chapman and Steve Sessions, with Dinsmore and Silverton executive producers.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.