Rural Media Group launches new cable network, The Cowboy Channel on July 1

Rural Media Group

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rural Media Group rebranded its FamilyNet cable television network and replaced it with “The Cowboy Channel,” which started on July 1.

Programming shifted 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” enjoyed distribution into more than 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” has an aggressive over-the-top (OTT) strategy through its cable partners and offers the service on digital platforms including Amazon Fire Stick, Hulu, Roku, Apple TV and others, which allows for 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,” said 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 lead 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 its 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 congers 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 supported “The Cowboy Channel” at launch. The initial weekday program schedule features 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, creating new fans and interest in discovering and understanding western culture. Original programming is 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 by watching the show it creates an interest for that viewer and/or their family to experience 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,” said 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 and 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” launched July 1 at 12:01 a.m. ET. FamilyNet and its lineup of programming went dark permanently. To learn more, visit beginning or follow the updates via social here: Facebook: /CowboyChannel, Twitter: @Cowboy_Channel, Instagram: @CowboyChannel. ❖