Gray Television pulls plug on the Circle country music channel
The Circle, which airs locally on WXIX-TV's Channel 19.3, ceases operation at year's end.
The Circle will be broken Dec. 31. The country music and country lifestyle channel will shut down after four years of broadcasting, including on WXIX-TV's Channel 19.3.
The network was a joint venture of Gray Television, which owns WXIX-TV, and Ryman Hospitality Properties' Opry Entertainment Group.
It launched Jan. 1, 2020, with Opry Live (actually recorded performances hosted by Bobby Bones from Ryman Hospitality’s Grand Ole Opry in Nashville), Bluebird Cafe Sessions, Fandom and other shows. The lineup now includes The Grand Ole Opry at 9 p.m. Saturdays; original series such as Talking in Circles with Clint Black and Dinner Drive with Kyle Petty; reruns of Duck Dynasty, Major Dad, Friday Night Lights, Heartland and Longmire; and movies such as The Dirty Dozen and Barbarosa.
Jennifer Rieffer, WXIX-TV vice president and general manger, said she is "still waiting on guidance" for a replacement network on Channel 19.3.
One option could be The 365 channel from the Free TV Networks partnership announced earlier this month by Warner Bros. Discovery, Lionsgate, Gray Television and Jonathan Katz. It will offer African-American programming starting Jan. 1, 2024, according to Cord Cutter News. The group also will launch a second network called Outlaw featuring Westerns on New Year’s Day.
Opry Live and a few other Circle programs will continue in production and be available via streaming and other digital distribution platforms, a Ryman spokesman told Country Aircheck.