Rural Media Is Changing FamilyNet to Cowboy Channel

UPDATED: RFD-TV parent says western themed outlet will reach 30M homes
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Rural Media, the parent of RFD-TV, said it's reformatting its smaller cable network, FamilyNet, into a western-themed outlet, The Cowboy Channel. The changeover will happen on Saturday, July 1. 

Patrick Gottsch, Rural Media's founder and president, said in posts on Rural web sites -- including this one -- that he had wanted to make FamilyNet a western lifestyle channel from the beginning. “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," Gottsch said. That view changed as RFD-TV has been adding viewers for western fare and invested in events such as The American at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. FamilyNet now shows mostly older sitcoms such as All in the Family, Barney Miller and The Facts of Life. Those shows are now on several digital outlets, Gottsch noted, but there are fans of those shows "and we don’t take such a decision lightly,” program director Jeremiah Davis said in one of the posts

Various programs now seen on RFD-TV will form a library to supply the new channel. "The initial weekday program schedule will feature strips of our most popular series airing each day at the same time including Gentle Giants, High School Rodeo, Cowboy Country TV, Best of America By Horseback, 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."

When the FamilyNet purchase was made, from Interactive Television and Gaming Networks, Rural Media said the channel was in 14.8 million U.S. homes. Nielsen does not list FamilyNet in its universe updates, where RFD-TV is reported to reach 46.3 million homes. The new channel will launch with roughly double its size in 2012.

In recent months there had been speculation Gottsch was trying to sell FamilyNet.

Rural Media said in a post that discussed the channel's conversion from classic older sitcoms that "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."