Gottsch is all for Western sports and lifestyle
Cowboy Channel CEO Raquel Gottsch has been busy. In 2020, the Rural Media Group, Inc., including RFD-TV, kicked off a year of nightly rodeo broadcasts. Not an easy year, Gottsch said it has been rewarding, especially as she is at the venue in Texas preparing for the first round of the National Finals Rodeo (NFR).
“A lot of things we were able to figure out this year due to Covid like technology that had to be our friend when we just couldn’t send a truck and a crew of 30 or 40 people across the country, we had to take a step back and decide how we could do it and have a great product on television,” she said.
Some of the challenges Gottsch and the Cowboy Channel team worked through were things that may not have otherwise been solved as quickly. At the beginning of the year, the plan was to focus on the 18 10 and 10 rodeos, the Tour Finales, Extreme Bulls, and the NFR, but still broadcast as many rodeos as possible. With the cancellation of so many of the rodeos, the team was able to broadcast small and medium sized rodeos, bringing unparalleled advertiser exposure.
“That was part of our plan for year two, but we were able to focus on them, build a relationship with them and as the large rodeos begin to come back next year, we’ll already have them onboard so we can work with everyone,” she said. “It really brought us to our goal quicker.”
One new event that cropped up this year was at the Cervi Ranch in Stoneham, Colo. She said it came to fruition less than two weeks before it happened on the last day to qualify for the NFR. Though she said technology proved to be a bit of a challenge, it was a beautiful venue and successful nationally televised event.
That’s what happened all year,” she said. “As rodeos were cancelled, smaller ones popped up that we didn’t want to miss so we not only covered those, we had the opportunity to cover your Sikestons and your Lawtons, Burwell, and Spanish Fork, and Deadwood – some beautiful rodeos with great history and community around the country.”
Gottsch said the philosophy this year was to support as many rodeos as possible that were able to continue in a trying year, many being held without fans or the gate money fans pay.
“We didn’t want to pick one to feature each weekend,” she said. “That’s when we came up with the Pro Rodeo Live format where a lot of different weekends, you would see five different rodeos featured. They were all great in their own sense and we wanted to give each one some love so that’s what we did.”
Gottsch is pleased with the coverage offered and the commitment to the committees, contestants, and fans. Her goal, by the time the 10 days of NFR action conclude, is to exceed the viewership numbers from CBS coverage in previous years.
“That’s really the ultimate goal for us and to blow them out of the water and prove that we are the right television network for pro rodeo and fans,” she said. “Moving forward, from a business standpoint we would like to expand our scope of sponsors.”
Gottsch has worked extensively with the shows FarmHer and RancHer on the network and said she’s excited to have so many talented women on the team and in Western sports and lifestyle programming.
“It’s creating unique opportunities for ladies to shine,” she said. “We’re getting more and more breakaway roping competitions and coverage this year. Plus, we added Ladies Night on Tuesday nights, a night all about ladies on the Cowboy Channel with RancHer, Rodeo Queens, and Debbie Dunning. The goal is to add our own version of Sports Center and a women’s talk show about Western sports and lifestyle. I like women – they open up and tell the story. They’re beautiful storytellers.”
With an eye on creativity and synergy, Gottsch has assembled what she has called a dream team to broadcast the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo on the network from it’s one-year home in Arlington, Texas. Most recently, the Cowboy Channel announced that 26-time World Champion cowboy Trevor Brazile will join Justin McKee to host the NFR Pre-Show from Texas Live!
“We’re all excited and there’s no better cowboy than Trevor Brazile,” Gottsch said. “He is a wonderful face for rodeo, he knows the ins and outs of every event, and we couldn’t have picked a better person to join the team.”
She said the entire broadcast team is comprised of experts who also love and live the Western lifestyle, giving them credibility with rodeo fans who are knowledgeable and passionate about Western sports.
The broadcast team also includes Jeff Medders, Butch Knowles, Luke Branquinho, Donny Gay, Joe Beaver with Amy Wilson providing sideline reporting. Broadcasts from the Fort Worth Stockyards include a Game Day-type show hosted by Kirbe Schnoor, Janie Johnson, Kadee Coffman, and Pam Minick.
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