The Academy of Country Music Awards were first held in 1966, honoring the industry's accomplishments during the previous year. It was the first country music awards program held by a major organization. The Academy's signature "hat" trophy was created in 1968. The awards were first televised in 1972 on ABC. In 1979, the Academy joined with Dick Clark Productions to produce the show. Dick Clark and Al Schwartz served as producers while Gene Weed served as director. Under their guidance, the show moved to NBC and finally to CBS, where it remains today.
In 2003, the awards show left Los Angeles and moved to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The show is now held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Academy also adopted a sleeker, modern version of the "hat" trophy that year, and in 2004 the organization implemented online awards voting for its professional members, becoming the first televised awards show to do so.