Oh Great. Yet Another Country Music Awards Show Is Coming

No, we’re not talking about the inconsequential “CMT Awards”—country music’s third-tier video-centric participation trophy bonanza that has never been and will never be relevant to anything aside from trying to keep the last dying gasps of a decrepit cable franchise alive. Yes, they announced their “nominees” earlier this week, but don’t let anyone fool you into believing that anything happening there is of any importance.

Any awards show hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini begs to not be taken seriously. And the fact that the CMTs are inexplicably being held in Austin this year makes it even more of a curiosity. Hopefully the waves of homeless impede all of their efforts. The CMTs will be broadcast on CBS on April 2nd, because nobody knows how to locate CMT on their televisions anymore, while many folks under 30 don’t even have a television.

I’m also not talking about the ACM Awards, operated by the Academy of Country Music. They’re coming up on May 11th, and just as inexplicably have decided that Texas is an ideal location for their hogwash, broadcasting next to the stinky socks of the Dallas Cowboys football team at their practice facility called The Star. Granted, even a Cowboys practice facility is quite grand. But in 2015, the ACMs broadcast their 50th Anniversary presentation at the AT&T Stadium where the Cowboys actually play. How the mighty have fallen.

The ACM Awards have also been relegated to streaming on Amazon Prime after basically being cancelled by CBS, who replaced the ACMs on the network with the CMTs. Yes, it’s country music awards show musical chairs. Problem is, so many of country music’s rural fans don’t have proper access to broadband, and so broadcasting the ACM Awards online makes for a buffering nightmare.

But forget about all of those secondary and tertiary awards shows for a second. There is yet another awards show that is coming online in country music, as if three isn’t enough when you count the CMA Awards, which is probably the only one that should truly count.

After NBC Universal purchased a 30% stake in the Grand Ole Opry’s parent company Ryman Hospitality in April of 2022, you knew there would be an effort to cross-pollinate the two companies for better or worse. Lo and behold, come September we will now have the “People’s Choice Country Awards” a.k.a. a country music spinoff of the existing and stupid People’s Choice Awards on NBC.

Set for a two-hour presentation from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, it’s promising to be the “year’s biggest celebration in country music” (it won’t be), and the only completely fan-voted awards show in country music. The CMTs are also fan-voted, but CMT execs choose the nominees. Presumably with the People Choice Country Awards (PCCAs?), the people will get to choose the nominees, which means they will be terrible, and probably monopolized by Morgan Wallen fans.

Country music needs another awards show like it needs another Kane Brown or Kelsea Ballerini. The idea that you can squeeze yet another annual awards show into the packed calendar has been tried before, and failed. FOX tried to launch the American Country Awards from 2010-2013. They were generally bereft of talent and attention, and went defunct. They tried to rebrand them and bring them back as the American Country Countdown Awards in 2014 and 2016, and they also failed and were cancelled.

And none of this mentions the Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and so on and so forth that also cover country. Awards show ratings have stabilized since the all-time lows during the pandemic, but these presentations still in many ways feel like relics of the past, and are well off their ratings highs. The People’s Choice Country Awards feel like a Hail Mary to make the NBC/Opry partnership work. And if inexplicably it does, it will likely come by cannibalizing another awards show, potentially the CMTs, which aren’t real anyway, or the ACMs, which kind of are, and have nearly 60 years of history behind them.

Instead of launching an awards show, why not start broadcasting the Grand Ole Opry in full on television again, or at least, a prime hour every Saturday night leading into Saturday Night Live? Who knows, maybe the PCCAs will surprise us. But it feels rather improbable. There may be an appetite for more country music on TV. But it seems that appetite is probably not for yet another awards show.

We’ll see I guess.

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