There were still plenty of reasons to be disgusted as a true country music fan attending the 2022 CMA Awards earlier this month. You probably could have skipped the Katy Perry/Thomas Rhett collaboration, or watched Old Dominion inexplicably win their 5th straight Vocal Group of the Year award. Does this band have real fans?
But a fairly universal consensus from country fans who suffered from the presentation to see Alan Jackson’s extended tribute at the end was that in 2022, the CMA Awards seemed to take a 180-degree turn and began to come back in the right direction. towards a more current country music. In addition to the aforementioned tribute to Alan Jackson at the end, a big tribute to Loretta Lynn started the show.
In between, the 2022 CMAs also saw a performance by Chris Stapleton and Patty Loveless singing the country standard “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” and Carly Pearce singing her Lynn tribute “Dear Miss Loretta” with Ricky Skaggs and Sonya Isaacs. Ashley McBryde, Brandy Clark, Pillbox Patti and Brothers Osborne also performed “When Will I Be Loved” made popular by Linda Ronstadt, and there was even a tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis by Elle King.
That says nothing to the awards themselves where more country-sounding actors have taken home big awards, including Lainey Wilson walking away with new artist of the year and singer of the year, Cody Johnson winning single from the Year and Video of the Year for “Til You Can’t”, and Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde won Music Event of the Year for “Never Wanted to Be That Girl”.
It was pretty clear that there was a concerted effort from the CMA Awards to push more country and more legendary acts onto the show. There were also a few appearances by artists who wouldn’t typically receive speaking time on American World CMAs, such as The War and Treaty and Marcus King.
So what were the results? The night numbers showed that CMAs saw their ratings increase by 11% year over year, which was the first time that CMAs had seen a real increase in ratings in years. The story of all these awards shows has gone downhill for a decade, exacerbated by the Covid era. But in 2022, the CMA Awards grew to 7.57 million real-time viewers, up from 6.83 million in 2021.
The longest and most accurate Rankings L+7 (live, plus 7 days for people to watch it recorded) was even better, posting a 16% year-over-year increase to a total of 9.7 million viewers, up 2, 2 million viewers compared to 2021. So not only did more people watch the CMA The Awards live, even more people watched later as the positive buzz about the awards continued. In addition to the CMAs ending a decade-long ratings slump, the 2022 presentation drew the largest audience for the awards in three years.
Was it because more real-life country artists were featured on the show, or was it more due to broader market conditions in the post-Covid era? We don’t know for sure of course, and it’s probably a mix of the two. But the fact that so many people watched the CMAs afterwards instead of avoiding them altogether is probably a good sign that the 2022 CMAs were well received.
Awards are perhaps even more of a relic of the past as the new generation of consumers cut cords, don’t watch TV at all, or care about awards any less. But fans of artists like Alan Jackson and Loretta Lynn are still very willing to participate in date TV and live performances, as long as their sensibilities aren’t insulted by whatever is going on.
Unquestionably, country music is more country in 2022 than in previous years, especially during the height of Bro-Country from 2013 to 2016, and especially in the mainstream. The 2022 CMA Awards reflected that. Even though Bro-Country brought a bunch of intruders into the genre, it’s fans of artists like Lainey Wilson and Cody Johnson who will stick around, stick with country music no matter the watch, and make the effort. to watch an awards show. in the first place.
Most media heralded the 2022 CMA Awards as a trip down memory lane for the country music genre. But as the ratings seem to indicate, going back to your country roots could also be a path to a brighter future for country music.