The network features original programming centered around country stars and their lives on and off the stage. Its lineup includes a weekly television broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry, the show that made country music famous. A different way to catch events from the Opry House beyond WSM's radio broadcasts brings even more exposure to Grand Ole Opry members.
"Circle is all about fun, discovery and accessibility for country music fans," said Drew Reifenberger, the general manager of Circle Media, in a press release. "Circle will align fans and artists by creating intimate experiences and camaraderie of a close-knit circle of friends."
Programming for the Music City-centric network includes entertainment news, documentaries and movies, plus licensed programming and archival content. Programming includes Backstage at the Opry, Opry Debut and Opry Docs. Opry Live premiered in February 2020 and compiles recent live-recorded performances at the Grand Ole Opry House by the superstars of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Other programming includes Circle Sessions, The Dailey & Vincent Show and Hee Haw reruns.
Scott Bailey, president of Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., said the goal was to provide entertainment experiences celebrating the country lifestyle and "enrich the artist-fan connection that is the backbone of country music."
"Circle Media is a key piece of that strategy that will create a window into all of the best moments that happen in Nashville and throughout the South, so fans can connect with up-and-coming artists and the superstars they love from anywhere they are," Bailey said.
While the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic slowed down the creation of new content, Saturday night Grand Ole Opry performances have continued without a live audience since March 2020. Livestream broadcasts from the Opry stage have included such country music stars as Blake Shelton, Craig Morgan, Marty Stuart, Brothers Osborne, Ricky Skaggs, Ashley McBryde and others.
The network debuted in early 2020 on Gray-owned TV stations. On Oct. 2, 2020, Circle announced a deal with four major streaming platforms: Roku, Samsung's TV Plus, Vizio's SmartCast and Comcast-owned Xumo. Now the network, which was previously unavailable in Nashville without an antenna, can be easily accessed via your computer.
"Every day, our goal is to make The Roku Channel experience even better for our users," said Ashley Hovey, Roku's Director of AVOD Growth. "With the launch of Circle, we're bringing great, free ad-supported country music and lifestyle content to our users. We're very excited to help grow Circle's audience with The Roku Channel's very engaged users."
In March 2021, the network announced a deal with NBC streaming service Peacock.
"There are more than 130 million people in the United States who identify as country music fans, and with Peacock, we are able to reach more of this growing fan base than ever before," Bailey said in a press release. "We look forward to adding our artist-centered programming, like Opry Live, to their collection of high-quality content and channels."
This article was originally published in October of 2019. It has since been updated.