Rural Media Group (RMG) announced today that its FamilyNet cable television network will be rebranded “The Cowboy Channel” effective July 1. Programming will shift from airing the nostalgic and popular comedy sitcoms of the ’70s and ’80s to being anchored by Western sports and everything that encompasses the popular Western lifestyle.
At launch, The Cowboy Channel will enjoy distribution into over 30 million homes on cable/satellite systems which carried FamilyNet and will grow from that great foundation of being on DISH Network channel 232, AT&T U-Verse channel 566, Charter Spectrum channel 468, and selected Cox, Comcast, Mediacom, and many rural cable systems. In addition, The Cowboy Channel will have an aggressive Over-the-Top (OTT) strategy through its cable partners and offer the service on digital platforms including Amazon Fire Stick, Hulu, Roku, Apple TV and others, which will allow viewing on mobile devices, iPads, computers and wireless devices.
“When RMG originally purchased FamilyNet in 2012, it was our intention to make it a Western lifestyle channel to compliment the rural programming on RFD-TV,” stated Patrick Gottsch, Founder and President of Rural Media Group. “At that time we just didn’t pull the trigger, as I was uncomfortable that there was enough original programming or interest to support such a full-time independent channel and decided that RFD-TV was able to handle the demand.
“However, over the past four years, we have been able to prove the viability for such a channel led by the success of RFD-TV’s The American, which has developed a strong track record of Nielsen ratings and built tremendous sponsor/advertiser support for our yearly rodeo at AT&T Stadium. In addition, the popularity of western sports for both participants and audiences continues to grow as evidenced by our daily Western Sports Roundup on SiriusXM radio, and the Western Sports Wednesday prime-time programming now featured each week on RFD-TV. It’s definitely time for all things Western to have their own channel, and who better to do it than us?”
The Cowboy Channel name was chosen because of the iconic image that the American cowboy enjoys not only in America, but throughout the world. Say the word “cowboy,” and people already have a recognition and expectation on what would or should be on such a channel. It immediately conjures up so many different associations with different people for the Western lifestyle – cowgirls, rodeo, ranching, music, horses, cattle, environmentalist, family, hard work, tradition – the list goes on and on. All will be featured on the network and provide an almost endless list of topics and programming to build upon.
RMG has now also built an overflowing library of original programming dedicated to the Western world that will support The Cowboy Channel at launch. The initial weekday program schedule will feature strips of our most popular series airing each day at the same time, including “Gentle Giants,” “CINCH High School Rodeo,” “Cowboy Country TV,” “Best of America By Horseback,” “The American Rancher,” “Red Stegall’s West of Wall Street,” along with daily lessons by clinicians like Chris Cox and Craig Cameron. In addition, Superior Livestock Auction broadcasts will be given the opportunity to expand video auctions for both horses and cattle in the daytime schedule on The Cowboy Channel. Prime time and weekend viewing on The Cowboy Channel will feature extensive coverage of rodeo, bull riding and the wide variety of first-class cowboy/cowgirl competitions taking place throughout North America both on a live and recorded basis.
Equally important to serving those who already enjoy Western sports and the Western lifestyle is connecting with folks in urban America to create new fans and interest in discovering and understanding Western culture. Original programming is already in the works to help accomplish such a goal, lead by “Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup.” Each week, Debbe will visit one of the unique dude ranches that are scattered throughout this great country in the hopes that viewers and/or their families will, by watching the show, gain an interest in experiencing a dude ranch for themselves.
The Cowboy Channel does not believe that “reality” programming has to be negative or controversial to attract an audience, and like RFD-TV, will instead focus on producing and featuring positive and entertaining programs suitable for viewing by the whole family.
“Finally, and most importantly, in the end, it all comes down to really one thing – demand,” concluded Patrick Gottsch. “I still read every viewer email, work with our programmers on a regular basis, meet with our advertisers and their agencies, and have direct contact with our cable/satellite partners. They were all basically saying the same thing – fix FamilyNet, and/or ‘We want more Western lifestyle and Western sports programming.’ With The Cowboy Channel, we are able to do both at the same time. I could not be more confident that this is the right move for all concerned and a win for everyone.”
The Cowboy Channel launches July 1 at 12:01 a.m. EST. Click here to find the channel by zip code. FamilyNet and its lineup of programming will go dark permanently. To learn more, visit www.TheCowboyChannel.com beginning June 30 or follow the updates via social media here:
Statement of Purpose
The cowboy’s lifestyle has long been one of fanciful dreams, wide open spaces, lifelong friendships and shared experiences along with the special code of ethics that have made the cowboy a symbol of our American heritage and the West.
The cowboy represents a special type of person: fiercely independent, self-reliant, adventuresome, trustworthy and one of the first true environmentalists. His/her lifestyle embodies many of the attributes we are striving for in both our personal and professional lives.
There is a growing attraction to this philosophy among a wide cross-section of Americans: business professionals, blue collar workers, and among all age groups who feel integrity and honesty in business and our personal lives have been misplaced.
The Cowboy Channel is designed to bring the spirit of the American cowboy to cable, satellite and over-the-top audiences through extensive coverage of all Western sports, documentaries, events, comedy, music and entertainment.
The Cowboy Channel is targeting the heart of America’s cultural heritage and love affair with the cowboy and his/her special lifestyle. Its purpose is to capture the free-spirited attitude found these days with America’s living legend – the cowboy.