Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., and Gray Television, Inc. have announced that they have entered into a joint venture to create and distribute a premier linear multicast and OTT (over-the-top) channel dedicated to the country lifestyle.
The companies plan to transform the current landscape country music media ferings aimed at the genre’s rapidly growing audience by providing a dedicated home for artist-driven country lifestyle programming. The new channel will deliver a premium entertainment service featuring content that highlights country music artists and the passions, hobbies and love music they share with their fans.
The 50/50 joint venture will link Opry Entertainment’s network entertainment venues, programming archive, licensed content and original programming to Gray’s strong local television and digital presence. The new service will be based in Nashville and will be fueled by marketing and promotional resources from both companies’ existing network media assets.
The companies anticipate launching the linear multicast channel in early 2020 across television stations located throughout the country, including those owned by Gray, which covers 93% the country. The companies expect to launch a companion, premium OTT service in mid-2020. Digital media executive Drew Reifenberger will lead the staffing, development and launch the channel as General Manager the joint venture.
“For more than 93 years, the Grand Ole Opry has provided a platform for country music fans to discover and connect with artists,” states Colin Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryman Hospitality Properties. “This partnership with Gray is the next step in the continued evolution our Company’s position as a country music discovery point for fans. Its distribution network closely aligns with our fan base and will allow us to quickly scale our delivery existing and original artist-centered content to help reach the 110 million country music fans in the United States.”
“We have believed for some time that tremendous opportunity exists to bring differentiated entertainment ferings that celebrate country music to our audience base,” comments Pat LaPlatney, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer Gray. “Opry Entertainment’s unparalleled history in the country music industry combined with their special and enduring relationship with the artist community makes them a natural partner to help us deliver this premium content to our local communities.”
“Country music fans have long been known to be tremendously dedicated to the genre. As a company, we have recognized that there is a gap for these consumers in where they can go to watch great artist-centered programming on any device, wherever they happen to be,” remarks Scott Bailey, President Opry Entertainment. “We believe there is a significant opportunity to become the category leader in country lifestyle entertainment and to play an important role in delivering this content and experience.”