Nashville is back from the dead. The Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere drama, which ABC canceled last month after four seasons, is moving to CMT for Season 5.
CMT will air all 22 episodes of Nashville's fifth season (which will continue to film in Nashville), while Hulu will be the show's exclusive streaming partner, making all episodes available for streaming the day after they air on CMT. Hulu already had SVOD rights to Nashville's previous four seasons.
"CMT heard the fans. The wave of love and appreciation they have unleashed for Nashville has been overwhelming," said CMT president Brian Philips in a statement. "Nashville is a perfect addition to our evolving line-up of big music specials, documentaries and original series. We see our fans and ourselves in this show and we will treasure it like no other network. Nashville belongs on CMT."
So far, Nashville is the only series canceled during the 2015-16 TV season to find a new home. Last season, only one canceled show moved to a new outlet: The Mindy Project, which has continued on Hulu after Fox dropped it.
Lionsgate, which produces Nashville along with ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment, had been aggressively searching for a new home. In March, the studio signed Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (executive producers of My So-Called Life and thirtysomething) to step in as showrunners of a potential fifth season. Lionsgate was so confident the show would continue that it ended Season 4 with a cliffhanger, which left the fate of Hayden Panettiere's Juliette Barnes up in the air after her plane had gone missing, instead of a happier ending.
"There's a little short-term pain but ultimately long-term gain because we intend and are quite focused and are in substantive and serious conversations with multiple buyers about continuing the show on another platform," Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs told The Hollywood Reporter last month. "If we didn't feel that was going to happen, we might have gone a different way."
CMT was an ideal fit for the network, thanks to its country music audience and the network's decision this year to branch out into scripted series, which represents "a quantum leap" for the network, Philips told Adweek in March. The network's first scripted series, Still the King (starring Billy Ray Cyrus as a washed-up, one-hit-wonder singer who discovers he has a 15-year-old daughter), premieres Sunday night.
Last season, Nashville was drawing only 4.2 million views in live-plus-same-day ratings for ABC (and averaging 0.96 in the 18-49 demo), but CMT and Lionsgate said the show had more than 8 million weekly viewers across all platforms, and is strong with women 18-34.
A Lionsgate spokesperson said it was too early to say which cast members will return, though Beggs had previously said, "We intend to continue the show with them all involved," and called stars Britton and Panettiere "essential."