It being upfront season and all, we spoke with the folks at diginet The Country Network about life after the channel was reacquired, and rebranded, and what’s coming up in terms of original programming. A quick history: the channel launched in 2009 as the Artists & Fans Network, came back as the American Music Video Network, and later The Country Network (TCN).
After TCN was acquired by Zuus Media in 2013, it was rebranded again, as Zuus Country. Earlier this year, TCN Country LLC bought back the network for an undisclosed sum, and rechristened it The Country Network.
“We’re back to the original name,” says Tim Eaton, co-owner and president/CEO. “It makes so much more sense than Zuus Country.”
Country competition around the dial includes cable net CMT and digital network Heartland, which is part of Luken Communications. At its upfront presentation March 3, Viacom’s CMT announced a batch of originals, including The Ed Bassmaster Show, centered around the popular YouTuber; the Elvis musical Million Dollar Quartet; scripted comedy Still the King; and a second season of Ryan Seacrest’s I Love Kellie Pickler.
Eaton said TCN is all about country artists—and primarily up and coming, independent ones. “We don’t show Adam Sandler movies, we don’t do shows about drunken young men and girls in bikinis,” he said. “It’s not the direction we’re going in—we stay true to the music.”
Besides mainstream country, that includes the “Americana, Texas and Red Dirt genres,” says TCN.
TCN airs in 40 markets, according to the network, primarily on subchannels owned by DTV America, Cocola and Sinclair. On June 1, Eaton says the channel debuts in Dallas.
Originals include the new talent showcase On The Rise, behind-the-music focused On the Set, and Our Land–The Music Highway, a musical road show hosted by singer-songwriter Shawna Russell.
Eaton says TCN is in talks with a couple “honky-tonks” in Nashville and the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a performance show, or two, based out of those locales.
“We’d like to do more original programming,” says Eaton, “all music-based.”