A+E Networks | TV18 launches History channel

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 10, 2011
The channel, available in six languages, will feature locally relevant content from the original History channel from the US.

A+E Networks | TV18 launched its new channel, History, on October 9. Based in the mass-premium space, the channel has shows based on action and adventure. The channel is being launched in India as part of a joint-venture between TV18 and A+E Networks.

With this channel, the broadcasters hope to change people's perception of history. Ajay Chacko, president, A+E Networks-TV18 JV, tells afaqs!, "The History channel is not about dates and dead people, and black-and-white footage. It is very contemporary and about history being made every day. It's about great television, and not just about great facts."

Citing Sachin Tendulkar's example, Chacko says that the cricket maestro makes history every day. "The channel is about contemporary history, history as and when it happens," Chaco informs.

He prefers to call History a factual entertainment channel, and not an infotainment channel. He believes that the audience is bored with the content of soaps and sitcoms that are aired on the general entertainment channel and is looking for entertainment beyond the saas-bahu sagas. "Through this offering, we wish to provide alternative entertainment for many, especially those who wish to move on from soaps and sitcoms," he adds.

The target audience for the channel is of the 15-plus age group, belonging to Sec A, B and C segments. Some of the initial advertisers for the channel are from FMCG, automotive, telecom, and BFSIs.

History channel is available in six languages -- Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and English. DTH service providers Tata Sky and Dish TV added test signals of History, almost a week prior to the launch.

Initially, the channel will have five shows, namely IRT Deadliest Roads, Top Shot, Swamp People, Sliced, and Shockwave. IRT Deadliest Roads is a show around three American/Canadian truck drivers crossing some of the most extreme roads in the Himalayas. In Top Shot, 16 top shooters from America will fight for the top prize of $1,00,000. Each episode reveals weapons, technologies and tactics of a different era and the contestants face challenges inspired by real events -- from medieval crossbow contests to Wild West gun fights, to modern-day sniper missions. Swamp People follows the swappers through the thirty day alligator hunting season.

In Sliced, the host will grab hold of the world's toughest power tools and slice them in half to uncover its inner mechanics and fascinating history. Shockwave will have raw footage of catastrophic, headline-making events from all over the world, using graphics technology to dissect the video, revealing astonishing 3-D views, making an attempt to explain what really happened.

The shows will be aired on a weekly basis, available on the channel from Monday-Friday, at 9 pm.

None of the initial shows is produced in India. The channel will feature locally relevant content from the original History channel from the US. "There are two local shows in the pipeline. They are produced locally, but will have licensed content. The idea is not to have an Indian show or an international one. The idea is to have a thrilling show," says Chacko.

In the month of August, A+E Networks | TV18 JV announced Salman Khan as the brand ambassador for this channel. On appointing Khan as a brand ambassador for History, Chacko says that the ambassador will come as a surprise element. "It is very predictable for a GEC to do something with Khan. But, for a channel like History, Khan as the ambassador, will come as a clutter breaker. We wanted to get the message across that is completely unexpected. This is not what you expect out of a channel named History."

Sangeetha Aiyer, general manager, marketing AETN-18, says that they have left no stone unturned in spreading awareness about the channel. We have a mainstream media plan. We are using Hindi GEC, movie channels, regional channels and the entire bouquet of the in-house channels to promote the History channel and get as many eyeballs as possible. Besides, we are using radio and print media. We have also started a massive outdoor campaign, across the country. There are going to be several activations," says Aiyer.

The channel already has a quirky high-voltage campaign running across various media, starring Salman Khan. It carries the slogan, 'Kuch Naya Dekho, History Bante Dekho.' As per industry estimates, the channel has spent between 15-20 crore for the campaign, across the platforms. McCann Erickson is managing the creative duties for the channel, whereas MPG India is the media agency on record for the account.

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