History Powers Up Its Web Site

Apr 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Dan Davids is helping History Channel move into the future with an updated Web site that will be loaded with video clips, speeches, timelines, games and podcasts.

“We’ve got a great opportunity with History.com,” said Mr. Davids, president of History Channel. “It’s going to become more of a search engine. Right now we do pretty well and it’s got a lot of video clips, but it’s going to be organized in such a terrific easy-to-use manner that I think it will be great for our users and there will be a lot of great opportunities for integrated marketing between our video product and our broadband product.”

History.com will also develop broadband channels based around historical topics.

With specials on the cable channel next season focusing on Christopher Columbus and Richard Nixon, the new History

.com will be loaded with information on the explorer and the disgraced president to better enable one of the network’s goals, which is to help its viewers build links between history and the present.

At parent company A&E Networks’ upfront in New York this week, Mr. Davids will also introduce four new series.

“Lost Worlds,” premiering in the third quarter with 13 episodes, will focus on legendary places such as Pompeii, Ramses’ Egypt, Jesus’ Jerusalem and Braveheart’s Scotland.

“Engineering an Empire,” premiering in the third quarter with 12 episodes, is an outgrowth of the special “Rome: Engineering an Empire.” The series will look at Greece, China, Russia, the Byzantines and the Mayas.

“Dogfights,” premiering in the fourth quarter with 13 episodes, recreates famous battles using firsthand accounts, archival footage and animation.

“Ancient Discoveries,” premiering in the first quarter with 10 episodes, looks at the ancient roots of modern technologies. Episodes include “Machines of the Gods,” “Ancient Robots” and “Siege of Troy.”

Other specials in the works include “True Caribbean Pirates” in the third quarter, “Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of The Mayflower” in the fourth quarter, “The Exodus Decoded” in the fourth quarter and “The Dark Ages” in the first quarter.

The History Channel, one of the most male-skewing television networks, is coming off of a record year for ratings in 2005, when it added 103 new advertisers. In the first quarter to date, the channel is up 8 percent among adults 25 to 54 and 6 percent among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research. The network also scored a Peabody Award for “Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights.”

“We’ve really kind of hit our stride in how to integrate computer graphics and reenactments and on-site locations to really put together programs that really move, inform and entertain,” Mr. Davids said.