Despite Big Names, Ratings Fall for the 2015 CMA Awards


Country music continues its ratings slump.

Despite an incredible amount of publicity for the CMA Awards through ABC, including high-profile appearances all week on the network’s morning show Good Morning America and collaborations with ABC’s late night personality Jimmy Kimmel, television ratings for the show took a tumble in 2015. High profile appearances by non country stars such as John Mellencamp, Fall Out Boy, and even the current king of pop Justin Timberlake, could not salvage a night of growth in viewership.

According to The Wrap, rating were down 16% from last year for the CMA Awards. The show averaged 13.6 million viewers during its three hour slot, down from 16.2 million viewers from the previous year. In the coveted 18-49 demographic, the CMA Awards scored a 3.8 rating according to Nielsen, down from a 4.5 rating from the year previous.

The CMA’s faced strong competition from FOX’s own music-based show Empire, though despite the lower ratings, the CMA Awards still won the night. However the ratings slide is yet more bad news for mainstream country as it tries to regain the momentum that appears to have peaked a couple of years ago.

The Country Music Association’s second-biggest television event, “CMA Fest: Country’s Night to Rock” which aired on August 4th saw a whopping 37% ratings slide year over year, and exposed a systemic ratings slide happening all across country. In 2014, country music saw a precipitous sales drop of 16.7% compared to the all-genre sales slip of 11.2% according to Nielsen Soundscan. The sales drop across music was mostly due to the move to streaming music by consumers, but country’s drop outpaced the rest of the industry by a serious margin. Country radio has also been losing listeners in the key 18 to 34-year-old demographic in 2015.

Though ratings can depend on many factors, country music still appears to be trying to get over the post Bro-Country hangover that brought the genre to incredible highs in popularity in 2013, but has since eroded away elements of the genre’s core fan base. Perhaps big wins by critic’s favorite Chris Stapleton will begin to re-ignite interest in country by its core fandom.

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