Show spent 34 years at CBS.
After a 34-year run on CBS, the Country Music Assn. Awards will move to the ABC Television Network in 2006. The new deal will keep the show on the alphabet network until 2012.
The first show on ABC, set to air in November 2006, will mark the awards' 40th anniversary. The anniversary edition will air live from the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, a move from the show's usual home at the much smaller Grand Ole Opry House.
CMA executive director Ed Benson says the deal with ABC increased the trade organization's licensing fee for the awards show by more than 50%. But he says the primary appeal was strategic, not financial.
One big draw was "ABC's commitment to bring a new level of energy and excitement and a commitment to promoting and marketing the show," Benson tells Billboard.biz. "They clearly . . . demonstrated their desire and ability to maximize all their assets to make the CMA Awards a bigger and more important event."
In a separate deal, the CMA has struck a three-year agreement with ABC to air the prime time special "CMA Music Festival: Country Music's Biggest Party." The first such special aired on CBS last summer.
This year, ABC will air the event Aug. 2 from 9-11 p.m. (ET). It will be taped at the CMA Music Festival, taking place June 9-12 in Nashville.