The Viacom network has rebranded to attract a more diverse audience to its “modern country” and has seen ratings rise with new programming, including the former ABC drama Nashville.
The CMT Music Awards, airing Wednesday night, is the network’s biggest event. Last year ratings were up 20%, attracting a record 3.6 million total viewers as it aired on CMT, TV Land and Nick at Nite.
“We noticed that our audience has started to grow and we’re bringing in the country music audience. Not only are they coming in, but they’re staying,” said Adam Steingart, senior VP of integrated marketing for CMT. “We realized this is a great opportunity for us to also grow the size and footprint of what’s going on around our largest tent pole event, the CMT Music Awards.”
One of the priorities for new Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is having its networks create more events in the physical world. At its Movie & TV Awards earlier this year, MTV held a Music & Television Festival, featuring live music, special guests and food outside the Shrine Auditorium, where the awards were telecast. Comedy Central just held its three-day Clusterfest comedy festival in San Francisco. And BET has surrounded its annual award show with the BET Experience.
“The country audience is an audience that people don’t always pay attention to, but they’re out there and they’re a large number of people who have made it the most popular format in music. So we wanted to create an experience that can serve those folks,” Steingart said. “People get to not only interact with the CMT brand but also our sponsors’ brands along the way.”
The expanded CMT Music Awards has attracted a record number of sponsors, which in turn means higher revenues for the event, Steingart says.
This year, sponsors Aveeno, Bar-S, Dentastix, Firestone, Kingsford, Little Caesars and Pepsi have worked with the network to create custom sponsorship packages, while Bayer, Captain Morgan, Dove, General Mills, Liberty Mutual, L’Oréal and Verizon have opted for more a more basic approach.
“Not only do we have the most partners ever, but a number of these partners have come to us and have identified that the CMT Music Awards is going to be their platform for launching their summer campaign,” Steingart said. Many of the sponsors are also working with the network to create branded content they’ll be able to use after the event online and in social media.
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