War Is Hell—and a Theme Night on History

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The History Channel is reorganizing its prime time schedule into seven theme nights, such as "Tech Tuesdays" and "Time Machine Thursdays."

Executive Vice President and General Manager Dan Davids says organizing prime time helps viewers identify the programming and creates flow. The nights, he adds, should lead to "higher ratings and additional opportunities for sponsorships."

History is also introducing four series. Extreme History With Roger Daltrey
re-creates some of history's most harrowing scenarios. It will air on the channel's "History Sundays" showcase block.

For Saturday's "History's Mysteries" block comes Come Home Alive, where Americans recount first-hand experiences with international aggression like terrorism and war. And Tactical to Practical,
showing how many everyday items have military roots, will air on "Tech Tuesdays."

History Now
will explore current events and their historical context. It will air on various nights depending on the content.

Mondays will be "History Matters" night; Wednesdays, "Modern Marvels," looking at invention and innovation. "Heavy Metal Fridays" showcase three series on military history.

The new series are slated to debut in late September and October. History has ordered eight to 12 episodes of each. It is making what Davids calls an "incremental investment" in programming, though he declined to provide details.

History spent $120 million on programming last year, according to Kagan World Media, and has increased its budget between 10% and 20% annually over the past three years.

After a strong first quarter, when History averaged a 0.9 rating, viewing slipped 22% in April to a 0.7, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Davids attributes most of the defections to war coverage. "When news ratings [for the cable news nets] went up to 8.0 or 9.0 collective household rating, it drained off a lot of our information-hungry men."


War Stories

The networks had nearly 50 reporters in and around Iraq and last week, a few of them took time to talk to Broadcasting & Cable's Allison Romano about life during wartime