RFD-TV, the nation’s only channel devoted to rural America and western-lifestyle programming, was dropped by the Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK) from all their cable systems in Colorado and New Mexico on August 13, 2013.The move affects 467,867 Colorado and 70,502 New Mexico customers who have received the network since 2010 on their D1 tier.
Colorado and New Mexico based businesses affected include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Professional Bull Riders (PBR), Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), Superior Livestock Auction (SLA), National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA), Little Britches Rodeo, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship, who all air weekly programs on RFD-TV.
“This comes as a complete shock to everyone at RFD-TV,” stated Patrick Gottsch, founder of Rural Media Group, Inc., which owns RFD-TV, RURAL TV, and RURAL RADIO on SiriusXM Channel 80. “RFD-TV has higher ratings than over 100 other channels in these markets. For the past two years, RFD-TV has been the number one Nielsen rated channel for the 50+ demographic, and number one channel for ‘Time Spent Viewing.’ There is no dispute going on with Comcast, as RFD-TV is under contract through 2017. There was no advance notice provided from Comcast to RFD-TV, as we had to find out from viewers of Comcast’s plans.”
For years, Rural Media Group has partnered with communities across Colorado to promote local events to a national audience. Specifically, RFD-TV has featured the National Western Stock Show in Denver as well as PBR events and the National Little Britches Rodeo Finals in Pueblo. It is undetermined what impact this action by Comcast will have on these and other future opportunities for the state of Colorado.
Viewers from communities across Colorado have expressed their concern about the decision. Officials and lawmakers from the city of Pueblo, which receives considerable coverage from RFD-TV, have lobbied Comcast heavily over the past week, with little or no response from Comcast.
Rod Slyhoff, President of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, which is responsible for promoting Southern Colorado stated, “We have always been very appreciative of the relationship RFD-TV has had in promoting agricultural communities and western heritage events in Colorado. The network is a tremendous asset in promoting our Western lifestyle to out of state visitors. The Colorado events covered have an enormous financial impact to the tourism industry in our state. RFD-TV is an excellent fit for both the rural and urban areas of Colorado since it portrays our vibrant agricultural community. As a result, we are hopeful that the parties can renew their partnership.”
RFD-TV recently began airing a notice on-air advising viewers of the Comcast situation, which resulted in thousands of calls and passionate letters of support being delivered to Comcast executives in both Denver and Philadelphia. Executives of RFD-TV then met with Comcast’s Denver program managers to ask for reconsideration. That request was also denied.
“This Comcast decision makes absolutely no business sense,” added Gottsch. “For Comcast to ignore the powerful requests to keep RFD-TV’s popular, unduplicated programming is turning into a public relations nightmare for them. It is clear that thousands of Comcast customers in Colorado and New Mexico are now in play for other services that solidly carry RFD-TV, including DISH Network and DIRECTV”.
"RFD-TV offers great content and is a great service," said Dave Shull, DISH Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. "Viewers who've lost RFD-TV can access it affordably through DISH's Heartland package, which also includes RFD HD, RURAL TV and other rural lifestyle and family-friendly programming."