CMT Upfront: April 2, 2014

Advertisers, the press and CMT execs gathered at the Times Center yesterday to hear about CMT’s new programming, which features a healthy slate of documentaries, series, and music, music, music. Owned by Viacom (in fact, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman was in the audience), CMT is enjoying four consecutive quarters of year over year ratings increases, with 22 percent total day growth and 31 percent growth in prime. CMT capped off the good news with a live performance from Lady Antebellum, who sang their hit “Need You Now” and a moving medley of “Golden” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

Jayson Dinsmore, EVP, programming and development, announced the creation of a News & Docs division, “with a slate of bold and compelling stories that reflect big personalities and monumental events that helped define America, our music and our spirit,” from “some of the most respected and visionary filmmakers working today.” Upcoming docs include Promiseland from Ridley Scott; They Called Us Outlaws from Eric Geadelmann and Mark Johnson; Freedom, from director Morgan Spurlock, and Urban Legend: When a Nation Went Country, from John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan (Pony Excess). Also premiering: Johnny Cash – American Rebel.

This summer, premieres Broken Skull Ranch, with tough guy Steve Austin, and My Dysfunctional Family round out a schedule that includes the return of the net’s biggest hit ever, Party Down South, and Dog and Beth: On the Hunt. Also returning: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team for season nine; season two of My Big Redneck Family, and season three of Swamp Pawn.

The net’s music series, Crossroads, pairs Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves for its 50th episode, to air Friday, June 13 at 10p on VH1, MTV, MTV Hits and Palladia; the singers will tour together later this summer. “This is without a doubt one of the best pairings in the 50 episode history of the Crossroads franchise,” said John Hamlin, SVP music events and talent, CMT. “Both Katy and Kacey are killing it right now in their respective formats.”

“We’ve had a tremendous year of growth at CMT,” summed up Dinsmore. “We produced the biggest show in the channel’s history, established a beachhead on the highly competitive Thursday night and have more returning series than at any point ever before.”

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