Tuesday, November 21, 2017

RFD-TV gets in a basic package and House offices

Many television networks cater to younger and suburban or urban audiences, but RFD-TV bucks the trend by wooing rural viewers, who are older on average. The family-owned channel, which launched in 2000, reaches 52 million homes and has an avid following.

Though RFD-TV was cut from Verizon's FIOS TV lineup in 2016, late in the year the channel was included in AT&T's DirectTV Now line-up. "RFD-TV was in the basic package — with ESPNDisneyCNNFox NewsMTV and USA and everything else, which makes us real proud," founder Patrick Gottsch told The Washington Post's Emily Yahr. "I think it’s a reflection that programming devoted to rural content and senior citizens does have a place going forward in media." It was also recently announced that RFD-TV will be available in U.S. House of Representative members' offices.

Gottsch told Yahr that the network's mission is to "reconnect city with country" and says that rural people often feel left out by the lack of programming geared toward them. In the 1960s, he said shows like 'Gunsmoke', 'Petticoat Junction', and 'Green Acres' were popular, but these days "I think it's hard to connect any show with rural America anymore."

It's interesting to note the network's strategy: where other networks run programs that present rural life as an entertaining curiosity to metro viewers ("Duck Dynasty", "The Simple Life", "Alaskan Bush People"), RFD-TV features programming it knows rural viewers love, such as "Ag Day" and "Market Report" for farmers, popular reruns for older viewers like "Hee Haw" and "The Lone Ranger", and original programming like "FarmHer," about women in agriculture. RFD has also branched out with the launch of the Cowboy Channel in July.

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