The Cowboy Channel remains dedicated to the West’s historic sport and to the cowboys and cowgirls making waves in the arena.
In its four-year-run as a network, The Cowboy Channel has scored major points with rodeo fans by covering the marquee arena performances and by putting viewers up close for the biggest show — Wrangler National Finals Rodeo each December. But it’s not only the large-scale events that have made the network popular around the world — it’s also the dedication and attention to smaller rodeos, the moments that define the yearlong run-up to Vegas’ flashing lights and gold buckles.
Check in with the cable network or its Cowboy Channel Plus streaming platform on any given day and you’ll see the layers of the rodeo world peeled back. Apart from consistent live coverage on par with networks devoted to any other single sport, you’ll find behind-the-scenes looks at the lives of the rodeo athletes and Western lifestyle personalities. The Cowboy Channel is doing its own version of world-building for anyone who might not be able to attend rodeos every weekend. And for those who are, especially the athletes who give everything to the sport, it’s a high-profile platform on which fans and loved ones can connect with their stories.
Just in case you’re not already hip to the network, chief executive officer Raquel Gottsch Koehler makes a solid case. “If you love rodeo, you need to be watching The Cowboy Channel,” she says. “But at the same time, if you simply like that rodeo that you go to once a year in your local community, tune in — you can become a fan of a wonderful sport, one that’s patriotic and very family-oriented.”
Here’s more from Raquel, who’s gearing up just like everyone else in her world for the NFR’s return to Vegas.
On The Cowboy Channel's Involvement With Wangler And Cowboy Christmas
“We’re very honored to be the official network of ProRodeo and the official media partner of the PRCA. For us, we’re just excited to build upon what we were able to do this year and last year, where we were able to show what an entire television network dedicated to ProRodeo really can do, especially around the NFR. And this December, we’re thrilled to be returning to Vegas. We’ll start every day live from The Cowboy Channel’s Cowboy Christmas Ariat Stage with Outside the Barrel, which will roll into a two-and-a-half-hour NFR Tailgate Party. Next we’ll do our daily Western Sports Roundup live from outside Thomas & Mack. Then, the inside NFR Pre-Show for 45 minutes, into the start time of the regular NFR, followed by an hour NFR Post-Show. And finally we’ll end every night broadcasting live from SouthPoint Casino the Gold Buckle Presentation. That’s 10+ hours of daily live broadcasting all 10 days/nights of the 2021 National Finals Rodeo. And the fun part: Every single one of these television shows has a live audience. Nothing is closed off from the public. So we invite fans to come out and be on television live from Las Vegas during the NFR.
On Taking Pride In Comprehensive Rodeo Coverage
“People come up to us all the time saying they’ve always liked rodeo, liked the sport. But it’s been hard to be a fan of rodeo, never being able to follow rodeo like you are nowadays. ... Before, you just saw these cowboys and cowgirls on television during the 10 rounds at the NFR, for maybe eight-second rides. But now you really get to know them, get to know their personality, and see what their entire season looks like. The story that we get to tell of these athletes is what we absolutely love doing.
There’s never been a roadmap for this; we just make it up as we go. What we thought originally — that people would love to see more rodeo in primetime every single night on a national television network — is working. We’re just going to continue to build upon that.”
On What The Cowboy Channel Viewers Can Expect In 2022
“We’re looking forward to keeping the momentum rolling from the NFR right into the Texas rodeos. We’ll start with Denver, but then we’ll go to Fort Worth and San Antonio and Houston, Rodeo Austin and San Angelo. So, we’re hoping the energy will keep on going from NFR to the Texas Rodeos to the 100 Rodeos in 100 Days. Unfortunately, a lot of these winter rodeos this year in 2021 had to cancel because of COVID. But we’re looking forward to these bigger ones returning and showing them our support, while also showcasing these major rodeos to a television audience that continues to grow each week. We’re quickly figuring out what works. Our goal is to add a lot more western sports programming. You’ll see more reining, more cutting, hopefully more quarter horseracing. Those are some areas that we would like to expand on. But you’ll also see more western lifestyle programming, from cooking shows and more fashion shows to—you name it—all the areas that are important to the lifestyle in general. Rodeo will always be an anchor to The Cowboy Channel, but we want to be much more than just rodeo.”
How To Tune In
Visit thecowboychannel.com to find out which TV providers carry the network. Explore the options for streaming it live online or on a smart TV device (as well as special subscription options for complete NFR access) at cowboychannelplus.com.
From our November/December 2021 issue
Photography: (All images) courtesy The Cowboy Channel