Viacom's CMT hopes to raise a hoot and a holler with a new slate of documentary programming.
The network, focused on country music and entertainment, intends to use the non-fiction series - about 20 hours' worth in the season ahead - to "bring a voice to that form of storytelling that I believe is underrepresented," said Jayson Dinsmore, executive vice president of development and programming at CMT.
Documentaries on tap include: "Promiseland," a look at the American farmer, from executive producer Ridley Scott; "They Called Us Outlaws," an eight-hour documentary "event" from Eric Geadelman and Mark Johnson that looks at the rise of a new strain of country music in the 1960s and 1970s; "Freedom," from director Morgan Spurlock, a 90-minute film that asks whether or not independence is still a part of American culture; "Urban Legend: When A Nation Went Country," which investigates the phenomenon sparked by the 1980s film "Urban Cowboy"; and "Johnny Cash: American Rebel," exec produced by Derrick Murray and Paul Gertz from Network Entertainment, which looks at the legendary singer through ten of his best songs.
The network has seen a slight uptick in subscribers in the past two years. According to market-research firm SNL Kagan, CMT had 92.1 million subscribers in 2013, compared with 91.5 million in 2011. The fees it collects per subscriber per month from distributors had held steady at ten cents.
Dinsmore believes viewers want a mix of country-music themed programming along with original series. Last season, CMT launched "Party Down South" a reality series about a group of eight hard-partying housemates on Thursday nights that Dinsmore said struck a chord with audiences.
Two new series set to debut on CMT are "Broken Skull Ranch," a one-hour competition series featuring Steve Austin. The ten-episode series debuts in July and is produced by 51 Minds Entertainment, exec produced by Christian Sarabia, Rabih Gholam, and Steve Austin. The one-hour "My Dysfunctional Family" shows struggling parents calling on "family fixer" Dave Vitalli for help with difficult teenagers. Nine-episode series produced by Shed Media US and exec produced by Pamela Healey, John Helsing, Dan Pierson and Jeff Cvengros.