ABC’s ‘Nashville’ renewed for third season

ABC’s country music drama Nashville has been officially renewed for a third season and will continue to film in Music City, despite a massive decrease in tax incentives by the state of Tennessee. The announcement comes late Friday night, ahead of the network’s Upfront presentation next week, after ABC Studios and Lionsgate TV, who co-produce the show with Nashville-based Ryman Entertainment, spent the day crunching numbers to give the series a complete 22 episode third season.

Deadline Hollywood reports that ABC originally offered a 13 episode order for the series, but was willing to “make the numbers work” to produce 22 episodes. The decision was largely based on Tennessee tax incentives that has been granted to producers for filming the series in the Volunteer State. $12.5 million in tax breaks was committed by the state for the 2013-2014 fiscal year in package that was created outside the normal incentive program with $6 million initially slated for the 2014-2015 season. However, that cost was cut to $3 million in the final budget, putting the series at risk of cancellation if the city and Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, who have contributed financially in the past, didn’t step up their contributions.

Nashville has been considered “on the bubble” of renewal and cancellation during its sophomore season with a nine percent decrease in viewership from its first season, despite being a solid DVR performer. The Neilson Company reports that Nashville averages 4.5 million viewers throughout season two.

The series is expensive to produce, with an estimated $69 million budget for season two, but has continued to grow with its multimedia brand of music releases, TV specials, tours and merchandise. Big Machine Records has just released the fourth soundtrack to the show earlier this month featuring original music from the cast including Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. The series features dozens of original tracks sung by cast members each season and releases several tracks digitally each week a new episode airs. Album sales from the series’ four releases have sold more than 600,000 units to date with the top selling digital track having been downloaded over 190,000 times since its release in 2012.

Because economic incentives from Tennessee state and local governments would be less lucrative during the series’ third season, rumors began swirling last month that executives from the series were considering moving production out of state to keep the show on the air. Nashville exclusively shoots throughout Music City, on location and on a soundstage in East Nashville, but producers had considered packing up the handmade sets (which includes the Bluebird Cafe) and trucking them to either Austin, TX, which had been the front runner to move production where NBC’s Revolution calls home and where former NBC series Friday Night Lights (which also starred Britton) filmed, or to Georgia.

The city and state have gained financially from the series as well. The show has helped boost tourism for the city with a survey showing 1 in 5 visitors who had watched the show chose to come to Nashville based on the series. Local bars and music venues, such as the legendary Bluebird Cafe, which routinely sells out songwriter nights, have especially benefited from tourism after being frequently featured in the series.

While state legislatures voted to reduce Nashville‘s incentives by two-thirds, Laura Elkins with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development states, “The department looks forward to receiving a grant request from the producers of ‘Nashville’ once the show is renewed for a third season. Talks about the incentives are ongoing, and the department is working to make a third season happen in Tennessee with the funding we have available.”

Nashville airs its second season finale Wednesday, May 14th at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.