The Academy of Country Music Awards, also known as the ACM 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 first 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 through 2005. The Academy also adopted a sleeker, modern version of the "hat" trophy in 2003, which is now made by the New York City firm Society Awards. In 2004, the organization implemented online awards voting for its professional members, becoming the first televised awards show to do so.
The show was moved to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas from 2006 through 2014 before relocating to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex in 2015. The 2015 show broke the Guinness record for Most Attended Awards Show, with 70,252.The show returned to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2016 then moved to the new T-Mobile Arena in 2017.
Entertainer of the Year was a fan-voted award for eight years, until 2016, when the ACM announced its decision to abandon Internet-voting for it and three new-artist categories.