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History Channel Planning Marquee Events for Males

Apr 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

History Channel plans to hold more marquee events to lure more of the upscale male viewers advertisers crave.

The 10-year-old network, part of the A&E Television Networks family, already has eight marquee events on its schedule, in addition to “10 Days That Changed America,” which it bills as a major marquee special. History Channel has released few details about “10 Days,” other than to say it will consist of 10 documentaries produced by 10 award-winning filmmakers.

More marquee events are expected to be added to next season’s roster, eclipsing the eight that ran this season.

Next season’s marquee events focus on subjects ranging from “The Crusades: Crescent & the Cross,” which will run in the fourth quarter, and “First Emperor,” which looks at Chi Shihuang, who built the Great Wall of China, slated for the second quarter of 2006, to mythic American figures in “Lincoln,” running in the first quarter of 2006, and “Washington the Warrior,” premiering third quarter 2006.

Both the specials and a platoon of new series are designed to continue to move the History Channel’s image away from all World War II all the time.

“Our original programming has really grown over the past 10 years,” said Dan Davids, president of the History Channel. “It’s grown in quality, quantity and diversity.”

The network averaged a 1.0 Nielsen Media Research household rating in prime time for 2004 and won numerous awards, including a Peabody, for its special “Rwanda-Do Scars Ever Fade?”

“If you’re trying to reach a dynamic male audience, the History Channel is critical because I think the research has shown that there are about 6%BD; million men who watch History Channel that don’t necessarily watch news and sports,” Mr. Davids said.

The network had success with last year’s marquee events, including “Barbarians” and “Failure Is Not an Option.”

“I think the diverse array of marquees that we put together for the ’05-’06 season continue in that same strategy,” he said. “With our series we’ve been able to bring in more topics to the network to sort of diversify History.”

In fact, a couple of the new series are pretty far out for the History Channel. “Automaniac,” which profile cars used by notorious gangsters and vehicles in which stars have perished, is hosted by Bill Goldberg, the pro wrestler.

Another, “Weird U.S.,” examines odd historical stories that never made it into the history books. History Channel is also planning a special called “How ‘Star Trek’ Changed the World,” hosted by William Shatner. The special, based on a book by Mr. Shatner, explores how close scientists are to replicating the technology employed on the Enterprise.

History Channel is giving Hunter Ellis, the former Navy Top Gun pilot, a new series, “Man Moment Machine,” to replace “Tactical to Practical.” Other new series include “Shootout!,” “True Heroes,” “Declassified,” “The American Revolution,” “Where Did It Come From?” and “Pacific: The Lost Evidence.”

Canceled is “Extreme History,” which was hosted by Who singer Roger Daltrey. Mr. Davids said the show was canceled because of Mr. Daltrey’s hectic schedule and because of the show’s performance.

Returning series include “Modern Marvels,” “Mail Call,” “Deep Sea Detectives,” “Wild West Tech,” “Battlefield Detectives” and “Days that Shook the World.”

History Channel held its upfront in conjunction with A&E.

A&E said it has several series in development, including “Spying on Myself,” “Random 1” (working title), “Single Again” and “Little Red Man.”

A&E also has movies in development, including “Johnny Cash”; “Flight 93,” about the passengers who kept their plane from hitting Washington on 9/11; “Blackout,” about a massive electrical failure; “Celluloid Titans,” about the relationship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; and “Touch the Top of the World,” based on the memoir of Erik Weihenmayer, a blind mountain climber.