The History Channel will launch five new series and several new specials, while A&E Network will extend its aging Biography
programming brand as part of the networks' respective 2002-03 season programming lineups.
Both networks are hoping the new initiatives will help boost recent stagnant ratings performances. According to Neilsen Media Research, primetime household ratings for History, currently in more than 80 million households, were down 11 percent during first quarter 2002, compared to the same period last year. A&E, with more than 85 million households, saw its ratings decline 21 percent during the quarter, compared to 2001.
New to History next season will be Secret Passages, a weekly series that focuses on history's greatest hideouts; Mail Call, which answers viewer mail inquires about history facts; and Basic Training, a new reality series that follows six recruits through basic training, said network officials.
Also new to the schedule: Conquest,
an examination of the history of competitive sports; and Secrets of the Ancient World, featuring intriguing stories about early civilizations, lost cities and religious roots.
History also will premiere several documentaries and miniseries, notably The Ship, a six-part series that looks at history through 18th century and 20th century recording techniques; and TR and the Birth of a Superpower, a four part miniseries that examines President Theodore Roosevelt.
Meanwhile, A&E will bolster its 15-year-old Biography
programming franchise with new line extensions. Among them: TV-Ography,
featuring stories behind television's favorite series and stars; Street Stories
a look at America's most famous thoroughfares; and Bio Year, which focuses on the major stories of year's past.
Later this year, the network also will launch Bio in a Movie, which will feature biographies of actors and actresses interspersed within network telecasts of movies in which they appear.
itself will reach its 1,000th episode this summer with a profile of legendary rock promoter Bill Graham, said network officials.
A&E also will expand its Investigative Reports
special Cold Case Files
into a weekly series and produce fresh episodes of its documentary show Minute By Minute.
In addition, the network will debut several original documentaries next season, including Old Friends, a look at the 95-year friendship of three women produced by actress Julia Roberts and three specials from Cosmos Studios —The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, Solar Sail
The network also has five original movies slated to premiere during 2002-03.