Rayna Jaymes, Juliette Barnes and the rest of the “Nashville” gang haven’t played their last song.
The ABC television network announced late Friday that “Nashville” has been renewed for third season — with a full run of 22 episodes — ending months of speculation about the future of the locally produced prime-time drama. As “Nashville” has been considered “on the bubble” between renewal and cancellation throughout its second season, Friday’s news came as a relief to the show’s devoted fans, as well as its cast and crew.
“It’s another Nashville victory,” said actor Ed Amatrudo, who plays artist manager Glenn Goodman on “Nashville” and has called the real Music City home for the last 10 years. “The city of Nashville is on fire right now. It would be the worst possible time ever to not have a show like this.”
But it remains to be seen whether Nashville the city will continue to have “Nashville” the TV show in season 3.
Last month, sources revealed to The Tennessean that executives had explored the option of moving the production to other states, scouting locations in Texas and Georgia. In its first two seasons, “Nashville” has been shot exclusively in and around Music City, both on location and on an East Nashville soundstage.
But executive producer Steve Buchanan, who’s also the president of Opry Entertainment Group, the parent company of the “Grand Ole Opry” and Ryman Auditorium, said everyone who is involved wants to see “Nashville” stay at home.
“Our No. 1 goal was the pickup for season 3, and an equivalent goal for all parties is that the show is shot here in Nashville, where it should be,” he said. “The studios and the network want to see that happen; the state and the city, who have been incredibly supportive, want to see that happen; and obviously, from the Ryman Hospitality (formerly Gaylord Entertainment, “Opry” owners) perspective, we share that, and we will do whatever it takes in partnering with the city and the state to try and ensure that that happens.”
The Nielsen Co. reported that “Nashville” has averaged 4.5 million viewers in season 2, which is a 9 percent decrease from its first season.
But as a musical brand, it has continued to grow. The show released its fourth soundtrack album on Big Machine Records earlier this month, with more than 600,000 total albums sold to date. The top-selling digital track — one of dozens offered on iTunes — has been downloaded more than 190,000 times. It was a cover of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey.”
Last month, ABC aired a concert special filmed at the Ryman Auditorium, and the cast followed that up with a sold-out four-date tour, packing theaters and clubs in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
The future of “Nashville” as a local product partly depends on economic incentives from state and local government. For season 2, the state contributed $12.5 million, Metro gave $500,000 and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. added $125,000.
But a newly trimmed annual state budget leaves just roughly $3 million in the Tennessee film incentives fund, which would require more funding from Metro and the CVC to get closer to the $13.1 million provided for season 2.
In an official statement Saturday, CVC President Butch Spyridon said there had been “no official word on location. We can only hope and remain optimistic.”
Last year, it was mid-June before “Nashville” announced that the production would remain in Music City — nearly six weeks after ABC picked it up for a second season.
“Nashville” airs its second season finale at 9 p.m. Wednesday.