The Cowboy Channel offers a lot but if you’re reading this page, you probably care most about professional rodeo. But even with roots that date back decades, it’s a modern channel that you can easily stream if you know where to go. Read on to learn everything!
In a hurry? There are two primary options for watching The Cowboy Channel, but they are both excellent:
- Sling TV: Just add the Heartland Extra to one of its low-cost plans. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.
- Vidgo: Get the Premium plan with a ton of channels.
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The Official Network of Pro Rodeo, The Cowboy Channel has Western sports down (and roped and tied).
So if buckin’ broncos and ridin’ and ropin’ are your things, get ready to move ’em on, head ’em up, cut ’em out, and ride ’em in with The Cowboy Channel!
What Is The Cowboy Channel
The Cowboy Channel was originally founded as the National Christian Network in 1979. It then became FamilyNet when Jerry Falwell bought it in 1988. Things changed a bit when Rural Media Group founder Patrick Gottsch acquired it in 2012.
It was merged with Gottsch’s Rural TV channel. In 2017, it was rebranded as The Cowboy Channel after officially partnering with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
No other channel covers Western sports to the extent The Cowboy Channel does. But it does have a bit of competition.
GAC Living (formerly Ride TV) has some rodeo/equestrian programs (such as the original docuseries Cowgirls). CMT and Country Network Plus present country music. And Grit, Heroes & Icons, and INSP all carry iconic cowboys and lawmen in classic Western shows and movies.
The Cowboy Channel Shows
The Cowboy Channel features a full round-up of rodeo and Western sports that the other sports networks fail to cover. It also features a lot of content related to the Western lifestyle. When it isn’t covering live events, The Cowboy Channel borrows its sister-channel RFD-TV’s equine, ranching, and rodeo series. But it skips the news, agribusiness, and music content.
There are also, of course, classic cowboy shows like The Roy Rogers Show and The Lone Ranger. Like RFD-TV, it also has early morning/ Sunday televangelism. Programs featured on the website include:
- Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Round-Up: Debbe Dunning (best known for playing Heidi the “Tool Time” girl on Home Improvement) travels the US visiting dude ranches.
- Gentle Giants: Equestrian champions Pam Minick and Kadee Coffman showcase draft horses across America with breeds such as Clydesdales and Belgians.
- ProRodeo Tonight: Described as the SportsCenter of rodeo.
- RanchHer: Series spotlighting the personal and professional lives of women in ranching.
- Western Sports Roundup: Steven Kenyon, Amy Wilson, and Janie Johnson summarize the day’s news in Western sports. Highlights include results recaps, interviews, live clips, and detailed analysis of barrel racing, cutting, reining, team roping and more. Plus it includes announcements on events coming up. Airs weekday evenings (simulcast on Rural Radio 147).
The Cowboy Channel is the exclusive broadcast home of the PRCA, which is basically the NFL of rodeo. It’s the only place to watch the yearly National Finals Rodeo live from Las Vegas.
There’s also pre-event Tailgate Parties with discussion and interviews with special guests, as well as Road to NFR coverage of all the highlights of the rodeo season on the way to the finals in Vegas.
Stream The Cowboy Channel
Despite the success of the RMG channels in their target demographics, for some reason, media bigwigs aren’t wild about super-niche channels dedicated to farm reports and rodeo. Even DIRECTV, which carries RFD-TV on both its satellite and streaming services, doesn’t carry The Cowboy Channel.
But that’s okay — there are other services that do have it in their lineup. Let’s lasso up some details.
Sling is all about TV your way and not making you pay for a bunch of channels you don’t want and never watch. You choose a $35/mo base package with 30-40 channels, then add-on as many or as few as you want.
To get The Cowboy Channel (and its sister-channel RFD-TV), you’ll need the Heartland Extra, a roughly a dozen channels for $6/mo more. The channel lineup celebrates the great American outdoors and Western heritage. In addition to the RMG channels, there’s the World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel, Destination America, and more.
Sling TV plans come with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. The Blue plan allows you to stream on up to three devices while the Orange plan is limited to one. See our Sling TV review for more information.
Vidgo offers a channel lineup that is concentrated in family-friendly fare, sports, and news. You can get The Cowboy Channel, RFD-TV, GAC Living, and 130+ other channels with the Premium Plan for $79.99/mo.
There’s no DVR, but you can stream on up to 3 screens at a time. For more, see our Vidgo review.
Other Streaming Options
Beyond a live TV streaming service, you have other options.
The Cowboy Channel+
Want more bronc-riding, bull-riding, steer-wrestling action? Sign up for The Cowboy Channel+ for the entire 2022 rodeo season — over 500 live events, over 350 of which are exclusive. A subscription is $9.99/mo or $99.99/yr, and includes an HD live stream of The Cowboy Channel plus The Cowboy Channel’s original series and PRCA rodeo archives on-demand.
Would-be subscribers should note that while The Cowboy Channel broadcasts the NFR, it’s not included in the subscription. (You can maybe get it separately? See below for more info). The Cowboy Channel+ is also separate from Rural Media Group’s other streaming service, RFD-TV Now, which offers RFD-TV live and on-demand (also $9.99/mo).
SelectTV offers The Cowboy Channel, RFD-TV, INSP, FETV, Outside TV, and others for $6.99/mo. But this also comes with the base SelectTV system that helps you organize all your streaming services in one place. So you don’t need to remember where a particular show is streaming; SelectTV will do it for you. That base plan costs $3.99/mo, so you are effectively getting The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV for just $3/mo.
Streaming Devices for The Cowboy Channel
Both Sling TV and Vidgo support all these popular streaming devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android mobile
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- iOS (iPhone, iPad)
- Web browsers.
Sling TV supports many other devices including LG and VIZIO smart TVs as well as gaming devices Xbox and Oculus.
So if you like horses, ranching, and especially rodeos, The Cowboy Channel is for you. And you don’t need a cable company to rope this channel — just sign up for one of the streaming services above and leave your cable bill in the dust. We recommend doing so with Sling TV.
Why is NFR not included with Cowboy Channel Plus?
Honestly, it’s not completely clear that NFR is not included with The Cowboy Channel Plus. In past years, they appear to have sold a separate NFR Streaming Pass that gives you access to the NFR for that year. Last year RMG ran a deal where if you purchased a year’s subscription to The Cowboy Channel+, you’d get NFR included free.
But the current sign-up pages are very clear that NFR is not included, and they don’t include any option right now to purchase an NFR Streaming Pass. It may be available only part of the year, closer to the actual event. We have contacted The Cowboy Channel about this but have not heard back. We will update if we do.
Can I watch The Cowboy Channel for free?
Short answer: you cannot watch The Cowboy Channel for free. You can either watch the channel through a TV provider or subscribe to The Cowboy Channel Plus service. It doesn’t appear to offer a free trial period. Sling TV offers a 3-day free trial and Vidgo a 7-day free trial, during which you could watch The Cowboy Channel free, but that’s the closest you’re going to get.