On April 3rd, the 3rd annual iHeartRadio Awards will air on TBS, TNT, and TruTV. iHeartMedia has a foothold as one of the largest radio outlets in the nation, with stations all across the map. For country music in particular, iHeartMedia is home to The Bobby Bones Show – a show that has grown in popularity and notoriety within the country music circles. The iHeartRadio awards are just another award show, and another national spectacle including the iHeartRadio and iHeartCountry festivals. Those tuning into the iHeartRadio Awards will see an array of musical acts on TV including The Weeknd, Adele, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Kendrick Lamar, and Ed Sheeran. But one issue with the audience draw comes with the country fans as the 51st Annual ACM Awards will air on CBS on the same night, starting at the same time.
Since 2008, the ACM awards have aired during the first week of April with the exception of 2009 and 2015. So the this year’s ACM award scheduling is pretty consistent with the recent history of the ceremonies. As for the iHeartRadio Awards, with TBS hosting the Men’s NCAA Final Four on April 2nd, there’s a huge potential audience draw for iHeartMedia to advertise the award show during the NCAA basketball semifinals, which last year drew an average audience of 18.9 million viewers between the two games.
It’s not as if the iHeartRadio awards will struggle for viewership as their musical lineup and nominees are the biggest names in pop, rock, and hip hop. At the same time, though, the country audience may not watch and nominees may not even be in LA since they’ll be in Las Vegas for the ACM awards. Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks, Chris Janson, Brett Eldredge, and Thomas Rhett are all nominated for awards at both ceremonies. Also Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, and Sam Hunt are all scheduled to perform at the ACM Awards with Bryan also hosting, so those people will not even consider the iHeartRadio Awards an option. The only country acts nominated only for iHeartRadio awards are Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton. Losing a bulk of the country audience is only a small dent for the iHeartRadio Awards, but a loss that any respectable producer would hate to see.
It could just be a coincidence that the two award shows fell on the same day. The ACM Awards followed their established pattern and the iHeartRadio Awards looked to capitalize off an excellent advertising opportunity, and it just so happened that the selected date was the same. I don’t think it was an intentional decision by either party in an attempt to mess the other up. Regardless of the reason, it’s the iHeartRadio Awards that’ll suffer in the country genre. With a majority of the double nominated artists scheduled to perform at the ACMs, that almost guarantees a good chunk of the targeted country music audience will tune into CBS on April 3rd. Sure passionate Blake Shelton fans will probably opt out of the ACMs for a chance to catch Blake win an iHeartRadio award, but that’s a small percentage of viewership lost compared to those that iHeartRadio loses to the ACMs.
When looking at the media and advertising tactics, iHeartRadio stations have a leg up. Due to the fact that both awards are at the same time, the iHeartRadio stations obviously have a vested interest in solely promoting their award show instead of the ACMs. And TBS would be stupid to advertise a CBS broadcast and drive viewership away from TBS, so there’s a good chance that ACMs probably won’t get some Saturday night advertisement during the games. But ultimately, the trump card the ACMs have to play is the physical appearances from some of country’s biggest stars, and Katy Perry. The ACMs booked Katy Perry in a duet with Dolly Parton, if only as a semi-desperate attempt to poach potential viewership away from the iHeartRadio Awards.
As someone who’s studied media, I’m fascinated by this understated viewership war brewing between the two award shows. Attracting viewers by adding stars like Katy Perry or the lack of advertisement from the a large group of radio stations: they’re all very subtle actions. Neither company is addressing the issue, but you can bet they’re well aware of it and working behind the scenes to secure their viewers. Perhaps that’s why we had early announcements of winners of the New Artist categories. Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, and Old Dominion were awarded Best New Artist in the Male, Female, and Group categories – an announcement that came 11 days early. The motivation for such a move could be to create buzz as early as humanly possible for anyone who hasn’t yet committed to watching the ACMs.
The iHeartRadio awards are meaningless and only a ploy by iHeartMedia to get increase profits; they don’t carry historical value like the ACMs do. That is why I would expect most, if not all of the double nominated acts to attend the ACMs in Vegas. The only way I would predict someone choosing iHeartRadio over the ACMs is either by a late performance addition or prior knowledge to winning an award.
Both shows will probably feature some rapping, most certainly feature pop music (you’re better off watching iHeartRadio if you want to see good rap and pop), and we’ll get some country music at the ACMs since Chris Stapleton will perform, and Tim McGraw will sing “Humble and Kind.” And at the end of the day, I’m sure both award shows will have large viewing numbers to report, at least enough to feel satisfied with the turnout. It’s not like it’s two country award shows battling for which superstar will appear on which. I just find this oversight interesting, as I’m fascinated by the little tactics producers are using to rope in the viewers on the fence.
Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases
- Margo Price‘s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter will be released tomorrow.
- Parker Millsap‘s The Very Last Day also gets released tomorrow.
- On April 1st, Robbie Fulks will release Upland Stories.
- Hayes Carll will release Lovers & Leavers on April 8.
- Jon Pardi announced that his second album, California Sunrise, on June 17th.
- Brandy Clark‘s Big Day in a Small Town has been delayed until June 10.
- Craig Campbell‘s new single is called “Outskirts of Heaven.”
Throwback Thursday Song
“Lightning” by Eric Church. From Church’s debut album, Sinners Like Me, Church wrote this 5 minute story song after watching The Green Mile. The song details a man’s final hours as he prepares to be executed for committing a murder. Acoustic with a faint steel guitar, it’s a vastly different song compared to his singles, but Church says this is the song that earned him his record deal. Personally, this was my favorite Eric Church song until I heard “Record Year.”
Non-Country Suggestion of the Week
Everybody Wants by The Struts. Hey this is Josh talking here! Derek was looking for a non-country suggestion this week and I will gladly provide it in the form of The Struts. They’re an English rock band out of Derby, Derbyshire and they just made their debut in the United States with the release of their album Everybody Wants. People overseas got this album two years ago, but we’re just getting it here. For those who enjoy late 70s and early 80s rock, you’ll enjoy these guys. They borrow from AC/DC in the lyrics department and in delivery from Queen. It’s very glitzy, gritty and in your face type of rock music. If you’re a fan of rock music, give them a look.
Tweet of the Week
So The Grand Ole Opry is going to let Bobby Bones perform that stupid Idiots project he is parading around and everyone is okay with it?
— MillertimeMusicSpot (@ryankentm) March 18, 2016
That’s right. Shock jock DJ with a comedy singing act will make his Grand Ole Opry debut tomorrow, and I also don’t get why. Bobby Bones may be less country than Sam Hunt.
An Idiotic iTunes Review
I decided to look at Old Dominion’s Meat and Candy in lieu of their recent ACM award and found this gem. “Go listen to George Straight if you don’t like this. In today’s society I guess they just can’t please everyone because they are idiots.” Now, with the double use of the pronoun “they,” I think one can reasonably infer that “they” refers to the same noun. In the first instance, I assume “they” refers to the subject of Old Dominion. And since no new subject was established in that sentence, then technically, I think the second use of “they” also refers to Old Dominion. In which case, yes, Old Dominion can’t please everyone because they are idiots.