Even with the departure of lead star Connie Britton in the middle of season 5, Nashville seems to have a strong enough following of country music lovers to carry on. According to Deadline, CMT has announced that they have ordered a 16 episode sixth season. The hit series, which recently changed networks after being canceled last year by ABC after four seasons, it started the fifth season this January on CMT. The show is produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment.
With the death of characters Rayna James (Britton), it seemed uncertain where the rest of season 5 would go, and for that matter the series. Season 6 may be the last, but given the strong following, there may still be new life in the country music series. Hayden Panettiere, Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Maisy Stella, and Lennon Stella will continue to star on the show.
For the upcoming second half of the fifth season, Jeff Nordling (Big Little Lies, Desperate Housewives) has also been added as a recurring character named Brad Maitland, owner of the most successful record label in Nashville, who is a big to conceited and charming for his own good. Rachel Bilson (Hart of Dixie, The O.C.) and Kaitlin Doubleday (Empire) had already been announced to be joining the cast. The second half of the fifth season will premiere on June 1, while the sixth season is expected early 2018.
The order of 16 episodes is noticeably smaller than previous seasons, but makes sense given cable networks, such as CMT, tend to hand shorter seasons (usually 10-13 episodes), where broadcast networks, such as ABC, tend to have longer seasons (18 or more episodes).
According to Deadline, CEO Bob Bakish of Viacom (CMT’s parent company) recently announced that Viacom channels would be cutting back on scripted programming (which is more expensive than non-scripted), and would be focusing on six of their core channels (with CMT not being one of those). The six brands that Viacom will be focusing resources on will be Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount, with VH1, CMT, TV Land not being among the six. Bakish made this decision after Paramount Pictures lost $445 million in the last fiscal year, with box office flops like Monster Trucks, Ben-Hur, and Allied.
The show has received three Golden Globe nominations: two for Hayden Panetierre in a supporting role, and one for Connie Britton in the leading role. Nashville has hosted numerous famous guest star cameos over the years, such as country singers Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown, and Kellie Pickler, as well as celebrities such as Katie Couric, Conan O’Brien, Michelle Obama, Whoopi Goldberg, Elton John and Steven Tyler. The music from Nashville has inspired 10 soundtracks, as well as a Christmas album. Over five million single-track downloads and one million albums have been sold.
Look for the second half of season 5 on CMT in June, as well as on Hulu the day after each episode airs.