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CMT Programming Chief Jayson Dinsmore On CMT’s New ‘Reinforcing’ Brand Status, More ‘Sun Records’ & Scripted Future

Deadline logo Deadline 5/3/2017 Nellie Andreeva
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CMTjust announced its summer lineup, which includes scripted comedy Still the King, and renewals of unscripted series I Love Kellie Pickler and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team.

Fueled by marque new drama series addition,Nashville, CMT is on a streak of 21 consecutive weeks of year-to-year total day ratings growth in adults 18-49. While Nashville — which is half-way though its first season on CMT and fifth overall — has been renewed for a 16-episode sixth season, there are no plans to extend its companion, 8-episode period drama Sun Records, which chronicles the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, CMT’s head of development Jayson Dinsmore told Deadline.

“Originally we had planned for it to be a three-night events, and we morphed the development into a limited-run series,” Dinsmore said of Sun Records, which got a boost by airing behind Nashville. “It always was to be a limited-run series. It did extremely well but there are no current plans for additional episodes. We may revisit you never know because it did quite well.”

In other CMT scripted news, the network has passed on its soapy comedic pilot His Wives and Daughters, and the network also no longer is pursuing a Varsity Blues TV series adaptation, releasing the project which had been in development at CMT.

While there are no plans for new series pickups in the near future beyond CMT’s existing two scripted series, drama Nashville and comedy Still the King, “we still have several things in the scripted space in development,” Dinsmore said. “We are developing both comedies and dramas, the distinction is that they have to be very specific to CMT. I don’t think we have developed anything that could air on another channel.”

While CMT plans to remain in the scripted series business, “we are really focused on replenishing the unscripted slate” at the moment, Dinsmore said. “Our goal for 2018 is to launch launch 3 new additional unscripted series early in the fall.” As for what type of reality series the network is pursuing, “There are a couple of things that resonate with the CMT viewers — those are music-based or have some music element and comedy and escapism. I think we have put both of those into our development slate”

In the recently announced Viacom realignment, the company divided its cable networks into two groups — six core brands and the rest, including CMT, as reinforcing brands. What does CMT’s new position as a reinforcing brand mean to its budgets and volume of original programming? “Honestly, when that was announced, we scratched our heads a little bit. But then it became quickly clear that it was more about domestic play vs. global play. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for CMT, the investment and support from Viacom is as strong as it’s ever been.”

Under Viacom’s new mandate of facilitating more cooperation between the brands, CMT’s breakout reality series The Dude Perfect Show, recently moved to one of the company’s six flagship networks, Nickelodeon, for Season 2. (Similarly, two newly picked up TV Land series, Heathers and American Woman, are migrating to another core network, Paramount Network).

Dude Perfect was a show that we aired and did very well with teen boys. It did so well that we moved it to Nickelodeon, which is the perfect home for that series,” Dinsmore said.

He is a supporter of series relocating from one network to another.

“It’s a great idea. If there is a show on Spike that could migrate to CMT great, but there is no plans and conversely.  That includes Nashville, which will not be moving to another Viacom network, Dinsmore said. “We see the Paramount channel as an opportunity for our shows to get more exposure, we actually see it as a positive. Actually Nashville also aired on Nick at nite, and so did Sun Records, and that really expanded the reach for both of those series.”

The network’s main goal is to keep the current momentum.

“CMT has had an amazing year. We just went through a brand refresh, it was a huge success,” Dinsmore said. “We are one of the fastest growing networks in all of cable. We’ve grown our ratings and with shows like Nashville, we’ve brought a ton of new viewers to the channel and they’ve stuck around, and they’ve discovered everything else we’ve got to offer. It’s a really great time to be at CMT.”

With the help of Nashville, the network also has been able to attract blue-chip new advertisers that had not been on the network like Apple, Coca Cola and American Express, Dinsmore added, noting that Coca Cola has been locked in as sponsor for the first half of Nashville’s upcoming Season 5B, while Budweiser will be integrated in the second half.

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