Circle Diginet Launches Jan. 1 With 16 Originals

The country music/lifestyle channel will debut in more than 50% of U.S. TV households on stations from Gray and CBS. A companion OTT premium service is slotted to launch in late spring 2020.

Circle, a new country music and lifestyle television multicast network launching Jan. 1, 2020, announced 16 original shows and two major distribution partnerships that will broadcast Circle in markets covering more than 50% of U.S. TV households. Circle is a partnership between Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, and Gray Television.

Circle will be available on Gray Television stations across 56 markets throughout the country as well as on stations in major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Tampa and Detroit through a separate distribution agreement with CBS Television Stations.

“We are excited to launch the network with a fantastic slate of new, original programming that is true to Circle’s core mission,” said Drew Reifenberger, general manager of Circle Media. “These 16 shows are just the start of how we intend to bring fans closer to the artists they love, with more than a dozen additional shows in various stages of production and development. Serving as the regular drumbeat of Circle will be our broadcasts of each week’s live Grand Ole Opry performances.”

Circle will feature original programming centered around artists and their music; hobbies; outdoor and offstage adventures; food; family; and friends. Circle will also offer entertainment news, documentaries and movies along with licensed programming and archival content.

Original programs at launch include:

  • Opry Live: Beginning in February, Opry Live is a compilation of new live-recorded Grand Ole Opry performances that will be released each week. In the Opry tradition, this show will be a mix of today’s top stars, up-and-comers and all-time greats.
  • Fandom: The artist-fan relationship is unlike any other. Fandom is a series that explores the impact and intimacy of the artist-fan relationship from the perspective of fans as well as some of country music’s biggest stars, like Eric Church and Zac Brown.
  • Bluebird Café Sessions: Each year, thousands of fans flock to see artists and songwriters at the world-famous Bluebird Café. The Bluebird Café Sessions is a viewer’s ticket in — without the line. In this series, viewers will enjoy performances and storytelling from one of Nashville’s most iconic venues.
  • Southern Weekend: Hosted by singer and musician Natalie Stovall, each episode will highlight the best in southern living by visiting all the great attractions of the South including restaurants, museums, unique stores, and music venues. Country music artists will join in along the journey and share some of their favorite places.
  • Backstage at the Opry: Peek behind-the-scenes of the Grand Ole Opry, alongside artists as they go from rehearsals to the stage — and everything in between!
  • Craig’s World: Follow Opry member and Army veteran Craig Morgan at home and on the road as he and his tight-knit family navigate triumphs and challenges while developing businesses, writing hit songs and balancing a country music career.
  • Authentic America: Hosted by veteran TV host Nan Kelley and her Grammy-nominated husband Charlie Kelley, Authentic America takes viewers on a two-wheeled version of the classic American road trip by way of backroads and rural routes exploring some of the country’s best kept secrets — including lesser known attractions, off-the-beaten path eateries, and most interesting of all, the people who make America one of the most colorful and eclectic nations in the world. Guests include Blake Shelton and Alabama.
  • Upstream: Join Elizabeth Cook as she invites artist guests to a new fishing location each episode. While the fishing may be good, the real catch is the conversation. Early guests include Cam and Shooter Jennings.
  • Opry Debut: Enjoy mini follow-documentaries that chronicle the moments and emotions that artists experience leading up to the memorable career milestone every country music artist dreams of achieving — their Grand Ole Opry debut. Debut’s include Opry NextStage 2019 picks Tennille Townes, Travis Denning and Riley Green as well as the Opry debut of Ashley McBryde.
  • The Write Stuff: Viewers get a peek inside the inspiration and creation of some of country music’s greatest songs. Join country music hit makers as they walk step-by-step — from the initial concept to the final chord — and share the key licks and lyrics that brought their stories to life. Episodes feature Little Big Town, Old Crow Medicine Show and Travis Tritt.
  • Opry Docs: Hosted by contemporary artists like Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels and Amy Grant, Opry Docs is a series of documentaries on country greats like Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, George Jones and Minnie Pearl.
  • Better Half: Meet the larger-than-life spouses of some of today’s brightest stars and find out what gives them their own star power. Featured spouses include Samantha Busch (wife of NASCAR driver Kyle Busch), Kate Moore (wife of Justin Moore) and Christine Ballard (wife of Frankie Ballard).
  • Dailey & Vincent: Join Dailey & Vincent — the world-renowned bluegrass, country and gospel duo — as they host and perform in front of a live audience along with some notable friends like Vince Gill and the Oak Ridge Boys.
  • Stand Up Nashville!: Shot before a live audience at Nashville’s legendary Zanies Comedy Club, each episode of Stand Up Nashville! features a well-known comedian host as well as four up-and-coming comedians. Laugh along with a packed Zanies’ house and the most brilliant comics the South has to offer.
  • Family Traditions: Follow the next generation of country’s legendary families as they honor their roots while forging their own path. Episodes include Sam Williams (grandson of Hank Williams and son of Hank Williams Jr.) and Ashley Campbell (daughter of Glen Campbell).
  • Phil Vassar’s Songs from the Cellar: Join country music hit-maker, Phil Vassar, as he welcomes artists, songwriters, entertainers, athletes, and wine enthusiasts into his favorite place to write songs — his wine cellar. Each episode will feature conversation and collaboration along with a shared drink. Simple in concept yet rich in content, Phil’s laid-back style and quick-witted personality brings out the best in his guests as they share entertaining stories about their interesting lives. Guests include Kelsea Ballerini, Charles Esten, Mike Tyson and Hunter Hayes.

Beginning at launch, Circle will be bringing back Hee Haw, the classic and long-running music and comedy sketch show, which aired from 1971 to 1993 and 1996-97 and featured hosts Buck Owens and Roy Clark along with country music artists like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard.
For a preview of shows launching on Circle, click here.

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