Gray Television, Inc. and Opry Entertainment Group's country music and lifestyle channel, Circle, raised anticipation for its Jan. 1, 2020 debut by unveiling its initial 16-show lineup of original programming.
The television network's centerpiece will be the previously reported return of "the show that made country music famous," the Grand Ole Opry, to the small screen. Opry Live premieres in February and compiles recent live-recorded performances at the Grand Ole Opry House by the superstars of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Additional Opry-themed programming includes Backstage at the Opry, Opry Debut and Opry Docs, with the latter hosted by contemporary stars like Blake Shelton and featuring archival content highlighting country music legends.
Series focused on the songwriters at the backbone of country music tradition include Bluebird Cafe Sessions, Phil Vassar's Songs From the Cellar and The Write Stuff.
Other country music-related shows include Fandom, which offers an up-close look at the artist-fan connection; Elizabeth Cook's fishing-themed interview series Upstream; Dailey & Vincent's bluegrass, country and gospel showcase; Opry member Craig Morgan's reality series Craig's World; and Family Tradition, an in-depth look at the multi-generational talents from the families of Hank Williams, Glen Campbell and others.
Country lifestyle programming rounds out the lineup and includes the Natalie Stovall-hosted travel series Southern Weekend, Nan and Charlie Kelley's similarly-themed Authentic America, celebrity spouse profile series Better Half and Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville's Stand Up Nashville!
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"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."
"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," adds Scott Bailey, president of Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.
The new media network will be available on Gray TV stations throughout 56 markets in the U.S. Oddly enough, the Nashville-based station will not air in its own backyard--at least not until the late spring launch of a streaming option.