Looking to attract younger men with appointment
programming, The History Channel will launch four new series next season, scheduling three
of them on Saturday nights.
As part of the new lineup, journalist Arthur Kent will also
take an expanded role at the channel when he becomes host of a relaunched version of In
Search of History,officials said last week.
By creating a three-hour block of originals on Saturday,
History is trying to build a program block that audiences can turn to each week.
History's Lost and Found, which takes viewers on a
scavenger hunt through history, will kick off Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. It will be
followed by The Wrath of God, which looks at events leading to disasters such as
the 1976 Tokyo earthquake, and then Suicide Missions, a show on the most dangerous
jobs in history.
The fourth new regular series is Military Blunders,
which examines history's greatest military failures. It will air Sundays at 11 p.m.
All four new shows are slated to premiere in August.
The new shows -- and scheduling three on one night -- are
part of History's overall programming strategy, senior vice president of programming
Abbe Raven said.
"They represent the direction that we're going in
-- expanding the concept of what historical programming is all about," Raven added.
"We're targeting shows to a younger male."
In terms of grouping the three new series in primetime on
Saturdays, Raven said, "We really saw an opportunity on Saturday night to develop a
plan for appointment viewing We're a real alternative on Saturday night [in
terms of programming]."
With Kent at its helm, History's Mysteries will
make its appearance as a revamped and relaunched version of In Search of History,
replacing the veteran show in its old time slot of 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Kent will
also host a new season of History Undercover, which airs Sundays at 10 p.m.
History liked the results when its episodes of In Search
of History stayed focused and were research-driven, centering on mysteries, Raven
said. That's why the decision was made to relaunch the series, with Kent bringing his
investigative approach to the show and traveling around the world on location for it, she
"It becomes a detective show," Raven said.
"Relaunched, we feel that it's an important show -- a signature show -- for the
network. We're putting more resources into it."
As part of History's "Save Our History"
documentaries, the network will do a special on the history of war memorials, which will
be hosted by former Sen. Bob Dole. It will center on the World War II Memorial, which is
now under construction at the Mall in Washington, D.C.
History Alive, hosted by Roger Mudd, has slated a
four-part look at the Korean War as the nation prepares to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of that conflict. Many baby boomers had fathers who fought in that war, so
"there's a great deal of interest" in it, Raven said.
When the 1999-2000 schedule is in place, History's
primetime schedule will be about 80 percent original, according to Raven.