Billboard Music Awards Will Return To TV After 5-Year Hiatus

Billboard said Thursday it plans to bring back its annual music awards show on television after it has been dormant since 2006.

The Billboard Music Awards will be shown live on ABC from Las Vegas on May 22. In contrast to the annual Grammy Awards, which awards trophies based on the votes of industry professionals, the Billboard awards will honor artists based on sales figures tracked by the music trade publication, concert attendance and the amount of online activity connected to the artist.

Besides the awards show, Billboard will be aggressive in making more music programming for TV, said Richard Beckman, CEO of Prometheus Global Media, which became the publication’s owner last year.

The revival has been in the works since last year, but the timing may be fortuitous. Sunday’s Grammy Awards telecast was seen by nearly 27 million viewers, about 10 million more than in 2006 and 2008, the Nielsen Co. said.

“Music has never been a more powerful force in culture than it is today,” Beckman said.

The original Billboard awards started in 1989 and were abandoned after the 2006 show. Toward the end, not enough money was spent on the productions and viewers noticed, Beckman said.

Veteran special events producer Don Mischer will work on this year’s event, which Beckman wants to be “an incredible celebration of every facet of music, every genre of music.”

The show is timed for the beginning of the summer concert season, when a lot of new music is introduced — increasing the possibility that big-name artists will want to appear, he said. No participating artists were announced Thursday. From a television standpoint, it comes after the end of the latest season of “American Idol” when there usually isn’t a lot of music programming, he said.

“I don’t think there is anywhere near enough music on television today,” Beckman said. He wants productions under the Billboard banner to fill the perceived void. The company is also working on a new Billboard chart on undiscovered artists, one of which will be championed at the awards show.

The Billboard awards in categories like R&B, rap, pop, rock, country, Latin and alternative will be based on music sales between the end of February 2010 through February 2011.

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