The History Channel has never shown World War II quite like this before. The cable net is giving a second life to HBO's 2001 Emmy-winning Band of Brothers, acquiring the $120 million, 10-hour miniseries from the pay service for about $750,000 per episode.
History plans to debut the miniseries in second quarter 2004 and will hold onto the rights for 21/2 years. Band of Brothers
will air in widescreen format and with a lighter commercial load, probably six minutes per hour instead of cable networks' more typical 10 or 12 minutes of ad time.
The acquisition does not signal a new direction for History Channel into more scripted programming. The network does occasionally buy on-brand theatrical movies, such as Dances With Wolves
and Apollo 13.
"Our mission is to serve history enthusiasts," said History Channel General Manager Dan Davids. If a movie supports an original documentary or is in the right genre, the network will ante up, he says, adding that History doesn't have any plans to make a scripted drama series.
The miniseries was executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and is based on the best-selling book by historian Stephen Ambrose.
Although HBO heavily promoted Band of Brothers
during its run, Davids is not concerned the show is overtly branded as an HBO property. "It is Band of Brothers
first; it is second as to where it airs."
His History Channel counts 86 million subscribers, compared with about 34 million for HBO. For viewers who didn't catch it on HBO, he said, "it is a History Channel miniseries."