Disney Nears $22 Million Deal for Country Music Association Awards (Exclusive)

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The pricey renewal includes programming on ABC, Hulu and Disney+

CMA awards
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Disney is closing in on a massive $22 million-per-year deal that would keep the Country Music Association Awards on ABC while bringing in its streaming services to support the awards show as broadcast ratings decline, TheWrap has learned.

The new agreement carries a license fee of at least $22 million a year for a multiyear contract, according to two individuals familiar with the deal, which was possible because Disney could draw on funding from Hulu and Disney+ in addition to ABC. As part of the new deal, Hulu and Disney+ are expected to feature additional shoulder programming around the annual event, which is held every November.

ABC declined to comment, as the deal is not yet completed. A spokesman for CMA did not respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. An announcement is expected next week.

The CMA Awards have been on ABC since 2006.

Like all other award shows, the CMAs have suffered heavy declines in TV viewership, losing fully half of its audience since 2017.

Last year’s show drew a record-low 7.1 million in November, the first time it failed to hit double-digit viewership. From 2019 to 2020 alone the CMAs shed four million viewers. That’s a far cry from early in the last decade, when it drew 16.6 million viewers in 2013.

Given that landscape, the pricey new deal is all the more unexpected.

The pending CMA deal comes as a competing country music award show, the Academy of Country Music Awards, is searching for a TV partner for its own event in April 2022. TheWrap reported on Monday of an impasse between CBS, the ACMs’ longtime TV home, and Dick Clark Productions, which produces the show.

According to multiple individuals familiar with the matter, CBS balked at a staggering demand of $22 million a year, an increase from the $20 million-per-year price tag it had been paying under its most recent deal, which expired earlier this year. The asking price comes as award shows in general have faced a steep decline in viewership that was happening even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the contract deadlock with CBS, insiders said, Dick Clark Productions and MRC co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu are negotiating with NBC as part of a package deal that would renegotiate the network’s $60 million-a-year Golden Globes contact and extend its deal for the Billboard Music Awards. A DCP spokesperson denied this was the case: “It’s absolutely false that we would ever negotiate our shows as part of a package deal.”


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