The Viacom-owned cable network on Friday announced that its country music scripted drama’s upcoming sixth season will be its last. The Hayden Panettiere and Charles Esten starrer will return on Thursday, Jan. 4.
Once Nashville wraps its run on CMT in 2018, the network will exit the scripted originals space that had included Billy Ray Cyrus’ Still the King and mini Sun Records (which aired after Nashville‘s fifth season). The cabler is still home to syndicated repeats including Last Man Standing, Reba, Roseanne, Raising Hope and new arrival Mom.
The move to exit the scripted originals space comes as Viacom has been focused on six key brands — Paramount Network, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. — as part of CEO Bob Bakish’s larger plan to reinvigorate the media behemoth. Kevin Kay recently added oversight of CMT, which saw president Brian Philips exit the cabler following a 16-year run. In an executive suite interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kay — who oversees Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT — said there was “a lot of work to do” on the latter. “The longer-term play for CMT is to be strategic about how we can use CMT and build a business there that’s not just about linear TV,” he said. “Is there a concert business there? Is there more of a music play with CMT? Is there some other partner that we want to think about for CMT strategically? … CMT was going down a path of lots of scripted programming because they had Nashville and they could not really afford it. So, we’re keeping Nashville and moving into nonscripted, where we can develop quicker and maybe have some hits and definitely be more efficient financially.”
CMT becomes the latest cable network to leave the scripted originals space as competition (and prices) continues to increase in the so-called “Peak TV” era of more than 500 programs, along with A&E, which exited after Bates Motel wrapped its run; WGN America, which, following its acquisition by Sinclair, is now home to low-cost imports; and Viacom’s VH1, which saw its remaining scripted shows move to BET.
Nashville‘s final 16-episode season will be split in two, with the season finale airing in the summer.