The history of rTV3 stems back to the proposal of rTV YOYO, which was first publicly mentioned on December 21, 2012. As 2013 progressed, the idea lost steam, and was eventually replaced by the idea of a channel featuring IRL children's series aimed at an older audience, with cues taken from Australian channel ABC3 (now renamed). This idea was expanded upon in late 2013, as designs and ideas for the channel were finalized, taking cues from not only ABC3, but also other children's channels, such as the Danish DR Ultra, as well as British, Canadian, and domestic networks.
Initially, the channel was in a state of limbo, where the channel could launch, but it wasn't exactly certain when or if the channel would launch. Fueled by the announcement of Gavent Television Group's GN2, rTV Networks decided to make a public announcement of rTV3. It would be the second of rTVN's proposed future channels to head into full development, after rTV2. rTV Networks head BenzBot said on January 27, 2014 that he "knows what shows will be on rTV3 already, and it will all be very interesting for the viewers."
On November 9, 2014, Gavent Television Group was acquired by rTV Networks and turned into the subsidiary rTV Networks Gavent. As part of the deal, GN2 was merged with rTV3 due to conflicting and redundant formats and the channel was officially "put on the back burner", according to BenzBot, as he doubted whether or not the channel's predominantly IRL format would work well.
Fueled by the launches of competing channels such as Cartoon Everything and Cartoon Network Roblox, and the rise of such IRL-content channels in early 2017, the proposal of rTV3 was once again brought into the foreground of rTV Networks' programming strategy. On March 3, 2017, rTV Networks struck a deal with Lava Lamp Entertainment, the owners of the competing Cartoon Everything, which allows Lava Lamp to assist in some aspects of the channel's operations; however ownership of the channel and oversight of its programming remains with rTV Networks. The deal has also brought the channel back into formal development. The channel's Livestream feed was launched on March 9, 2017, thus making it officially eligible for carriage on roTV. The channel became officially available on that platform on April 14, 2017. The channel will be the first rTVN channel to use a 24-hour programming format, initially announced several years ago for rTV2. On April 18, 2017, BenzBot revealed he had a tentative list of over sixty programs he planned to air on rTV3, which will run from launch and in the following months. On April 30, 2017, rTV3 launched a Twitter account, @rTV3tv, in step with a number of the channel's competitors who have similar accounts of their own. Initially, BenzBot said he was looking to launch rTV3 at some point in May 2017, however, in early May he moved the launch back to a tentative date of June 3, 2017, a date which was eventually confirmed. In the days prior to the launch, rTV3 has ramped up promotional efforts, including shifting from a test card to a full promotional loop (in keeping with other rTVN channels) on May 30, 2017.
rTV3 finally launched on June 3, 2017, as scheduled, with a half-hour live program titled rTV3 Launch Night Live: Countdown to rTV3 at 6:30pm ET, followed by the network's first show, Atomic Puppet, starting shortly after 7pm ET. Following the channel's launch, concerns began to arise about the long-term viability of the channel's scheduling system (and possibly overall, the planned rTVN 24-hour programming format, which a number of rTVN's channels are expected to rely on for their broadcast management).
- Main article: List of programs broadcast by rTV3
rTV3 plans to offer a wide range of both domestic and foreign IRL programming in its schedule; predominantly current and recent live-action and animated series. The channel claims to offer a wider variety of programming than its competitors, with the channel's schedule focusing on key periods in the morning, after school, and in the evening. Following the network's premieres between 7pm and 9pm ET, classic programming builds parts of the channel's late-evening schedule, starting with episodes of King of the Hill, followed by additional classic series from the late 1990s and 2000s. A mix of the network's daytime and late-evening programming fills the channel's overnight hours. Due to program sourcing, another network's watermark may be visible during programs in addition to the rTV3 logo.
An original series initially planned for the channel's schedule is Dreihaus, a Big Brother-esque pseudo-reality show, based on a Danish series. On Dreihaus, complete strangers will be making friends and socializing while living in the house of their dreams. The program concept has yet to be completely specified, but rTV Productions will produce the show for rTV3. The show's name is German for "three house," which denotes the channel the program will air on as well as part of the program's concept. As of March 2017, there is no word as to if this program will be produced or as to any potential production timescale.
Following the channel's launch, there are plans to expand the channel's primetime period to 10pm ET starting in September 2017, thus pushing the network's late-evening programming back by an hour.