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History Channel Club Draws 50,000

8/03/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

There's another publication under A&E Television Networks' stewardship, and unlike Biography Magazine, it's not available at newsstands or through subscription.

You have to join a club to get it.

More than 50,000 people have done just that in the last six months, and the network expects by year's end to have 100,000 people paying $24 a year to get six issues of The History Channel Magazine
and other benefits.

And for 2004, there's a strong possibility History's affiliates could benefit in some way.

"Absolutely yes, whether it's a value-added subscriber direction, or merchandise sales associated with this," said Steve Ronson, vice president and general manager of A&E Networks' consumer products group.

"We're also exploring the inclusion of content from the magazine, or club opportunities, on affiliate Web sites. We're not in discussion with them on these things yet, but we do want to pursue this."

History's magazine, like Biography, carries features and short musings about its prime subject. The latest issue explores the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation, Yellowstone National Park's path toward placement on the list of endangered places and the origin of torpedoes.

There are recurring departments based around such The History Channel programs as Save Our History, This Week In History
and Modern Marvels.

Club members can contribute by documenting their heroes, or by relating an historical event witnessed firsthand, or by submitting captions for photographs.

They can also enter a "Great History Giveaway" sweepstakes for such prizes as reproductions of globes and Thomas Jefferson's pocket compass, or miniature early spacecraft.

By request, they receive for free A Guide to Historic America, containing information on more than 400 historic sites nationwide.

A special hotline has been set up to handle any questions on magazine topics or club aspects.

From the start, A&E designed the project as an interactive brand extension, under the direction of Ronson and licensing director Carrie Trimmer. "It's a loyalty builder in two ways," Ronson said. "The magazine gives club members a deeper understanding of our programming, and it provides a mechanism to talk back or participate with their own ideas."

History chose North American Media Group to work on the club's logistics and to publish History Channel Magazine. It has extensive club experience, including with the Professional Golf Association Tour's more than 500,000-member fan club.

Ronson is focused on building membership and further extending the club's benefits. After the profits come in, A&E Networks will look at similar clubs for other channels. "Let's cement this one first," Ronson said.

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