CMT Gets Adventurous

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CMT will add a little
adventure to its programming
lineup in April with the debut of
a Friday-night block of action-driven
original series.

The MTV Networks outlet
hopes to appeal to its core audience
of 18-to-49-year-olds
with family-friendly, adventure-themed
programming that, if successful,
will open the door to even
more content from the genre, according
to senior vice president of
programming Mary Beth Cunin.

The one-hour, primetime “CMT
Adventure Country” block will
debut April 9 with the premiere
of two original shows. Gator 911
chronicles conservationist Gary
Saurage as he looks to save Texas-area alligators; Danger Coast
follows the dramatic exploits of
Miami-Dade County’s elite waterborne
Marine Operations Bureau.

Another potential series that
could fall within the block is
Smoke Jumpers, a special airing
in April that follows emergency
professionals who jump from
planes to extinguish fires. If successful,
Cunin said, the network
could green-light the show for a
full-year order of episodes.

CMT hopes Gator 911 and
Smoke Jumpers will perform
above the network’s average of
399,000 total primetime viewers
year-to-date, a figure that’s 11%
higher than 361,000 averaged in
the same period in 2009.

The network decided to launch
the block after polling viewers on
what they wanted to see on the
channel. “We’re constantly looking
at what our audiences are
watching elsewhere and we kept
seeing adventure programming
continue to pop on other networks,”
Cunin said. “We decided
that we should be able to go down
that path, but in a CMT way.”

Cunin said she’s not concerned
about the glut of similar adventure-
oriented shows airing on
such networks as Animal Planet
(Animal Cops), National Geographic
Channel (Alaska State
Troopers) or Discovery Channel
(Deadliest Catch). She said the
shows will have a CMT feel, with
a bit of humor and country music
themes mixed in with the action.

The network is looking at a
country-music personality to
narrate Danger Coast, although
Cunin would not provide specific

The shows further broaden
CMT’s programming lineup beyond
its core of country music-themed
shows and music videos.
Currently, only 25% of the network’s
programming is related to
country music, compared to original
fare (such as competition reality
series The Singing Bee), which
makes up 35% of CMT’s lineup,
and acquired series (such as ABC’s
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
and Fox’s Trading Spouses and Are
You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?),
which comprise 40%.

“My goal is to hopefully reach
the core with the shows as well
as bring in new audiences, but we
never want to alienate our core
viewers,” Cunin said.