NBC, ‘People’s Choice Awards’ Create Separate Country Music Show

Country music is about to get its fourth major annual awards show. NBCUniversal announced Thursday that a program honoring country’s most popular artists will be spun off from its “People’s Choice Awards,” with a two-hour telecast dubbed “People’s Choice Country Awards” set to debut in September on the NBC broadcast network and the Peacock streaming service.

The host venue for the event will be Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House, which was used as a location by the Academy of Country Music Awards for a couple of years during the pandemic but has never been the principal ongoing location for any kudocasts in the past. The partnership is a result of the Opry’s parent company, Ryman Hospitality Properties, having struck a deal in April 2022 to sell a 30% stake in its entertainment operations to NBC Universal and the investment firm Atairos.

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NBCUniversal is billing the new show as “the only award show for the people and by the people.” It will become the only entirely fan-voted country awards show. The CMT Music Awards (which announced its annual nominations just a day earlier) also bills itself as fan-voted, but CMT execs does the initial selection of nominees in-house and then leaves subsequent rounds to fans.

Not every winner will be up to the general public; NBCUniversal said that several honorary awards would also be given out during the September ceremony.

“We’re excited to partner with the Grand Ole Opry to bring the year’s biggest celebration in country music to Nashville,” said Cassandra Tryon, senior VP of live events for NBCUniversal Television & Streaming, in a statement. “Country fans are passionate about their music and there’s no better place to host this event than from country music’s biggest stage.”

The show will be produced by Den of Thieves and have Jesse Ignjatovic, Evan Prager and Barb Bialkowski as executive producers.

No specific date beyond September has been announced for the initial edition of the new show.

Of the three existing major country awards shows on the calendar, “People’s Choice Country Awards” will come closest to the CMA Awards, which always land on ABC in the first half of November. The other two shows both arrive in the spring. CBS now has “The CMT Music Awards,” airing from Austin in April, and the ACM Awards have moved to a May livestream on Prime Video from the Dallas area.

Of course, country artists have lots of other opportunities to pick up a trophy during the year, as well, including the Grammys, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards and the “People’s Choice” mothership show itself.

The “People’s Choice Awards” show is held in December and has traditionally given out an award for favorite country artist. Three months ago that fan-voted honor went to Carrie Underwood, out of a field of eight. Categories for the new show have not been announced.

This will not mark the first time there have been four big country awards shows competing for the attention of Music Row and music lovers during the year. Fox had its own bid to get in on the country action for a while, with the American Country Awards from 2010-2013, followed by the American Country Countdown Awards in 2014 and 2016, both long defunct.

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