Like its siblings in the Discovery Channel programming stable, The History Channel has badly lost its way of late. Rather than broadcasting historical programs that subject matter buffs like me covet, the network has focused instead on such garbage as the travails of Alaska ice truckers and tabloid shows on Nostradamus and his ersatz predictions.
Lately, though, The History Channel has been delivering on its original brand promise: historical programming that provides a unique perspective on the past. Its new series, 'WWII in HD' is world class. It combines the best elements of a Ken Burns PBS documentary with a color version of the legendary 'Victory at sea' to provide an amazing, new look at 'the greatest generation' and its incredible victory against the Axis Forces.
The History Channel has lined up a number of actors (i.e. Rob Lowe) to provide the voiceover narration of real life, if little-known, WWII heroes.
It's absolutely mesmerizing, has stopped me in my usual viewing tracks and led me to hope and pray that the cable network has abandoned its current, mediocre fare and committed itself, instead, to provide higher quality content.
I'm not sure why Discovery, TLC and The History Channel lost their respective mojos but, knowing business as well as I do, I have to believe it was conceived by some hotshot programming whiz kid. I'll bet the kid failed and has been replaced by a new executive who has been charged with righting the badly listing ship.
So, here's a note to The History Channel's new programming honcho: whoever who you are, and whatever you're doing, keep it coming. I adored the 'original' History Channel, dropped you when you lost your way and am now prepared to give you a great, big, welcome back, man hug.
I second that, being a history buff as well, I was extremely turned off by the Ice Truckers and Nostradamus, etc. Staying true to your brand is important to remember, because this will help with your authenticity in the marketplace.
One more thought: Did you ever notice that “Arts” programming is conspicuously absent from A&E (the Arts & Entertainment Network), which is the parent company of the History Channel? Talk amongst yourselves; discuss… 🙂
Maybe I need to plan my next climb on Denali? I’ll hitch with an ice trucker and see what the fuss is all about.
I agree with you both; but for some inexplicable reason, “Ice Road Truckers” is one of its highest-rated shows, and, unfortunately, it will stay on the History Channel schedule until people stop watching it. Management convinces itself that it’s really not a “brand disconnect” but a more of a “stretch” because the audience is actually learning something from this insipid reality program.
Thanks Art. The History Channel was de my de facto programming source when it debuted. The only way I happened upon ‘WWII in HD’ was my channel surfing. Not that they care, but
The History Channel came precariously close to losing me as a viewer for life.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Rep. While I do think that the History Channel was a bit heavy on WWII documentaries, where the hell did Ice Road Truckers come from? With thousands of years of actual history to draw upon, this was the best they could come up with? And similarly I notice some live action programming on The Cartoon Network. Doesn’t the management of these networks realize what a brand disconnect they create when they make such boneheaded programming decisions, all in the name of short term dollars?
I buy the ‘formerly known as The Hitler Channel’ part, Julie, but who, in god’s name, cares about the trials and tribulations of a few ice truckers? And, more to the branding question at hand, how does a reality show about truck drivers in Alaska deliver on the brand promise of a media property calling itself The History Channel? I’m stuck in neutral om this one.
The short answer to your question as to why the History Channel decided to start airing reality programs such as Ice Road Truckers and specials on Nostradamus – big ratings. “Truckers” is one of its highest-rated programs; and for a cable network previously known as the Hitler channel because of all its WWII programming, these reality shows reach a younger demo, which the advertisers covet.