The Academy of Country Music Awards Moved to Amazon for a Wall-to-Wall Music, Commercial Free Experience

Ever wondered why the ACM's ditched the national TV broadcast? Find out here!

Written by Cindy Watts
The Academy of Country Music Awards Moved to Amazon for a Wall-to-Wall Music, Commercial Free Experience
Photo Credit ACM

A little less talk and a lot more music is the goal for the 57th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, billed as the concert event of the year.

Beyond awards categories and performances from country music’s brightest up-and-comers and most beloved stars, nearly everything about the show will be different.

Dolly Parton, Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen will host the ACM Awards, set for 7 p.m. CT March 7 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Instead of airing on primetime network television as typical, The ACM Awards will stream live in multiple countries on Amazon’s Prime Video. The show has been edited from three hours to two, will include more than 20 performances and has no commercial breaks. This year is the first time the ACM Awards will be in Allegiant Stadium, traditionally held in MGM Grand’s Garden Arena.

“Obviously, we’re going big with the stadium and being a little aggressive with it,” says Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “For our first year back in Vegas, sort of post-COVID return to normal, first year on Amazon and everything, this is the return of the party of the year. Fans are ready for entertainment. We just want to do a big old gigantic show as only we can do.”

The show will include performances from Barrett, Allen, Jason Aldean, BRELAND, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Jordan Davis with Luke Bryan, Walker Hayes, Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, Parmalee and Blanco Brown featuring Brooke Eden, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde, Thomas Rhett, Brittney Spencer, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, and top nominee Chris Young featuring Mitchell Tenpenny. Parton will duet with Kelsea Ballerini, and Kelly Clarkson will deliver a special tribute to Parton.

“I’m blown away,” said Young of social media. His Kane Brown duet “Famous Friends” led him to seven nominations. “I’ve never been the most nominated at any awards show in my career, and seven is my lucky number, so seven nominations feels really, really good.”

Radio personality Elaina Smith, reality television star Kristin Cavallari, country singer Priscilla Block, and reporter Zuri Hall will host the ACM Awards Red Carpet Show 6–7 p.m. CT March 7 on Prime Video to give fans an insider’s view of the red carpet. The show will include fashion trends, a look behind the scenes and a Kat & Alex performance.

Whiteside said the Academy of Country Music team has reimagined the awards show top to bottom. They transformed the nearly new Allegiant Stadium into a mecca for country music fans and turned it into a picturesque, state-of-the-art venue as a locale capable of supporting two hours of commercial-free, back-to-back music and awards. When the Academy of Country Music taped its awards show in Dallas, Texas, at AT&T Stadium in 2015, the staff had years to plan and organize the event. For the 2022 ACM Awards, they only had months.

“There was complexity, but also opportunity because we’ve got so much amazing space now in there to tap into,” he said. “The biggest thing was being commercial-free where typically you would have commercial breaks to reset stages and for production to make sure there’s no technical issues. In this case, it’s two hours with no stops, just wall-to-wall music. It’s going feel like you jump on a train at the beginning, and you hold on tight, and it’ll be over in two hours. You don’t want to miss a minute of it because there’s no fluff in it.”

The Academy is adding multiple stages around the venue, including one that overlooks the famed Las Vegas Strip, to compensate for time lost they would have used to reset stages during commercial breaks. As one artist is performing on a stage, another act is setting up in a different area to keep the action rolling.

After the show is over, fans will be able to view the 57th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at 7 p.m CT Tuesday (March 8) on IMDb TV, Amazon’s premium free streaming service. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can catch the awards show in the Amazon Music app 7 p.m. CT March 10.

Whiteside explains the Academy’s research shows that viewers believe content on streaming platforms is more interesting than what they find on network television. When the CEO looked at the data and discovered they could reach an international in real-time and provide a commercial-free experience, he knew the shift to Amazon was the best proactive move the Academy of Country Music could make. 

“We were able to leapfrog any other awards show out there in terms of the breadth of the distribution of it globally,” Whiteside told Country Insider. “It’s the first show where we have an opportunity to drive consumers and viewers into a platform where they can consume music and buy merch and engage with all of the artist content and product. It’s a gamechanger for the Academy and country music.”

Whiteside couldn’t be prouder of the Academy of Country Music’s position as an innovator at the forefront of awards shows in the entertainment world. The ACM moved to streaming before The Grammys, The Oscars, or any other major show. He believes it’s because Amazon understands the power of country music artists and the loyalty of the genre’s fans.

Whiteside promised it would be a show that viewers never forget.

“It’s going be a lot of big, big songs,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of reinterpretations of big hits that will be totally fresh takes on them. We’ll have some fun cover songs in the show, and it’ll pay homage to Las Vegas. We want to focus on legends, superstars, and nominees, but we also want to shine a light on new artists because that’s what the academy is known for. You’ll see a lot of diversity as well, so I think it’s a really good balance across the board.”