'Grand Ole Opry Live' changing networks

Friday, September 5, 2003

— The live telecast of the Grand Ole Opry is moving from Country Music Television to its smaller competitor, Great American Country.

The hourlong country music show, "Grand Ole Opry Live," has appeared on CMT every Saturday night since 2001. It draws 1.5 million to 2 million viewers and was CMT's highest-rated weekly series.

The move means the TV broadcast will reach fewer viewers. Great American Country, started in 1996, reaches only 25.2 million U.S. households, compared to the more than 70 million households reached by CMT.

"There isn't a bigger, longer-running music show on TV today," said Jeff Wayne, president of Great American Country, whose parent company is Jones Media Networks of Englewood, Colo. "It really puts us on the map."

CMT and Gaylord Entertainment, which owns the Opry, tried but failed to negotiate a new agreement with the Opry. Steve Buchanan, senior vice president of media and entertainment for Gaylord, said CMT proposed a deal that would have broadcast fewer shows.

Great American Country will air "Grand Ole Opry Live" at 7 p.m. Saturdays and increase the number of repeat telecasts. Repeats will be three times on weekends and twice on Tuesday.