Soon after ABC announced the cancellation of Nashville last month fans swept into motion, trending #BringBackNashville on social media and cheering on Lionsgate – Nashville’s production company – as they shopped the show around. As of this evening it appears the fan campaign might have worked, with preliminary reports indicating that CMT is close to picking up the series for season 5.
Lionsgate previously reported that several outlets were interested in the series which prompted fans (who will always find time to help their favorite TV show!) to create a petition and start lobbying:
— Lynn (@BrooklynNashie) May 30, 2016
— Nashville season 5 (@Nashville_S4) May 30, 2016
Tonight’s news only focused the frenzy:
— Deana Atwood (@datwood2) June 8, 2016
— Gillian Odom (@odom_28) June 8, 2016
How could CMT turn down all that viewer love?
The last bit of negotiations are reported to be about hammering out stacking rights, which are the rights to air all episodes in a season on-demand. Traditionally broadcast networks had the rights to stream the previous 5 episodes of a show – called the “rolling five.” This season particularly networks have become aggressive about locking in the full-season rights before they’ll sign a deal. Stacking rights have become such a big deal NBC’s chairman Bob Greenblatt called the issue “the future of our business.”
Deadline mentioned that the news appears timely as the CMT Awards are scheduled to air tomorrow night. While noting that this is all hearsay from an unnamed source at this point, they also speculate that an announcement could come before then. CMT does seem like the right fit for Nashville tonally, and could even expand the show’s audience by introducing it to a big chunk of its 86 million subscribers who never watched it on ABC. And though Nashville‘s average 6.7 million viewers (with delayed viewing) didn’t impress ABC, that would be a healthy audience for a CMT show.
The 33 year-old network has been making some smart choices with series programming recently. Not long ago they looked around country music festivals and realized the audience for their genre had changed. Cowboy hats and Wranglers had been replaced by shorts and t-shirts, with country crossover stars like Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton drawing legions of young fans. Skewing their programming younger resulted in a 38% boost in millennial primetime viewing in just one year. While they still air Orange County Choppers and Redneck Rehab, shows like Party Down South and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team are some of their best performers. Nashville would be a glossy, Hollywood addition to that lineup.
Selling the stacking rights to a network can cost a studio or production company when it comes to making long-term streaming-on-demand deals however. Services won’t pay as much for series that have been made wholly available online. Netflix, in fact, insists on an exclusive deal for any show they think about adding.
Hulu is a little more lenient which bodes well for Nashville since the service already streams the show’s previous seasons.
Keep your ears peeled. If the deal goes through the cry of delight will echo off Twitter.