VH1 Country switching to CMT Pure Country

Starting tomorrow, May 26, VH1 Country will become CMT Pure Country. If your cable or satellite TV provider offers VH1 Country, the feed will switch to the new CMT network at 6:00 a.m. on May 26. Pure Country is intended as a 24/7 music channel, something that may be welcome to fans who tune in CMT to see music and music videos, and find instead that they are running movies, reality programming or sitcom reruns.

I traded email yesterday with Amanda Murphy at CMT, and she mentioned that Pure Country intends to embrace “all country genres,” good news for bluegrass lovers hoping to see more grassy video content on television.

Murphy shared some further insight into the change in format and name for the channel:

“CMT and VH1 are both part of MTV Networks Group and this is essentially a re-brand, allowing CMT to infuse it with our distinct creative direction and sensibility. CMT PURE COUNTRY fits in to CMT’s overall music strategy, which includes providing viewers with multiple ways to give country music fans more of the pure music content they are passionate about.”

Coinciding with the launch of the re-branded network comes a change of venue as well, as the new music channel will now be programmed from Nashville. Pure Country will be available in over 16 million homes, and offered by major cable providers like Comcast, Charter, Cox, CableOne, Mediaone, Knology, Cequel II, Armstrong Cable and Blue Ridge Cable.

Some familiar CMT shows will appear on the new channel, like the popular Wide Open Country program, which incidentally, specifically mentions bluegrass in its intended offerings. This show has always been meant to highlight music that isn’t featured on mainstream country radio. Also making its broadcast debut is Studio 330 Sessions, which has heretofore been a web-only offering on CMT.com and which has featured live performances by bluegrass artists in the past.

Wide Open Country will remain on CMT in its 30-minute daily block, but will be a one hour daily feature on CMT PURE COUNTRY that could air as many as three times a day. Studio 330 Sessions will continue to live on CMT.com. CMT PURE COUNTRY will be the first time the Web series has been televised.”

Let’s hope that bluegrass labels move rapidly to take advantage of this newly expanded opportunity for the airing of music videos – and that CMT Pure Country will choose to air them! CMT.com has an email address (questions@cmt.com) for feedback and comments, should anyone wish to congratulate them for the new launch, and suggest to them that the bluegrass market is worthy of their attention.

UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: I just heard again from Amanda Murphy, who wanted me to share an additional comment from Evan Kroft, Director of Music Programming and Talent Relations at CMT. He asked us to add that bluegrass will receive expanded exposure on Pure Country, since in addition to the Wide Open Country video hour, bluegrass clips will also be included in the normal video blocks.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.