‘Unplugged’ Moves Into Palin’s Slot on Sportsman

With Amazing America with Sarah Palin about to end its run, Sportsman Channel is getting “unplugged” with a new original series about people living off the grid.

America Unplugged, hosted by former U.S. Navy SEAL Cade Courtley (pictured), will look at the stories of eight Americans who have chosen to live off the land, including generating their own electricity. The network says about 400,000 Americans are living off the grid.

“These are everyday people that don’t necessarily think that the world is going to end tomorrow. For them, this is just a better way of life. This is a more clean way of living, the way their forefathers did it,” said Marc Fein, executive VP of programming and production for the Sportsman Channel.

Fein hopes that the show’s theme of self reliance can reach a broad audience and connect them with its core hunting and fishing programming. “We really like the connection to our ‘Red Wild and Blue’ theme,” he said.

America Unplugged will launch June 5 at 8 p.m. ET, the timeslot Amazing America will be vacating after this week’s finale. Fein says Amazing America, featuring Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, generated big increases in viewership in its timeslot from a year ago. It also generated buzz for the network.

“The awareness factor has been great and it’s been really good for us,” Fein said, but the show hasn’t been renewed yet.

“We’ve had discussions on that,” he said. “There’s a lot of positives to it. Once the show ends its run, we’ll sit back and talk about things internally and make that decision about going forward.”

America Unplugged is produced by A. Smith & Co., which also produces Hell’s Kitchen and American Ninja Warrior. “We really like their style and working with them,” said Fein, pointing to the authentic way the show was produced, as opposed to the more scripted reality of some other non-scripted shows.

Living off the grid means that some of the individuals featured on American Unplugged are unlikely to have cable TV.

“None of them probably have Nielsen boxes,” Fein said. “I know we just lost eight people who would have watched the show.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.