Television

History Channel to hype entertainment quotient

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NEW DELHI: Come live the entertainment story with Martin Sheen, Omar Sharif, Daniel Craig and Peter O’Toole. This is The History Channel's (THC) new mantra for India.
The only international television network devoted exclusively to historical programming, today announced its plans for pursuing a new strategic direction in India by making a well-defined shift to entertainment.

The channel also outlined its extensive plans to take forward this move to aggressively drive viewership and advertising revenues. Starting 6 May, viewers in India will get to experience an enhanced and extended offering of the same.

“This year we are looking at making the channel stronger and more relevant to our viewers and advertisers by enhancing our offering,” The History Channel managing director India Nikhil Mirchandani said at a press conference today.

The new strategic direction of the channel stems from its need to continuously stay relevant to its viewers. The History Channel with its new tagline ‘Live The Story’ is going to be all about bringing alive a viewing experience that will be unique, inspirational and above all entertaining.

According to the company, the shift to entertainment ensures that THC remains true to its unique theme of History while becoming more entertaining and engaging through riveting programmes that will be showcased in hitherto unseen formats.

Commenting on the new programming that will be visible on the channel from May, company’s senior vice-president programming Joy Bhattacharjya said, “We have a spectacular line-up of programmes from May onwards. We are moving onward and adding to our well-researched and entertaining documentaries and serials a whole new line up of the most interesting stories.”

The new fare from history will include mini-series, re-enactments and also films. Martin Sheen, Omar Sharif and Daniel Craig will enact some of the most popular and interesting characters and stories through history.

“It is what I call the Devdas effect – where we will inform in an entertaining format and allow viewers to live the stories that are historically relevant,” Bhattacharjya added.

The film Devdas made a couple of years back by Sanjay Leela Bhansali in true Bollywood style of lavish sets, grandeur and oodles of melodrama re-told to Gen-X successfully a wasted love story set amidst the 1920s-1940s of West Bengal, torn by class conflict, through the lead protagonists, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit.

The programming on The History Channel will deal with events and personalities that are historically significant in an entertaining manner. From Rome to Hitler to Helen of Troy to Spartacus, the channel will explore the wide gamut of history without being restricted by formats.

The new strategy will also be evident in the vibrant on-air graphic elements, which will reinforce the power and passion of history presented in an entertaining format. To promote the new look and feel, the channel will also roll out an on-air brand campaign that will communicate the spirit of channel.

Facts and fiction will mesh together. For example, film Marilyn and Me will be accompanied by the biography of the sex goddess. Every month will have a distinctive theme.

The month of May will be identified through the theme of war and will showcase never-seen before films and series such as Hitler and Haven. June will be dedicated to the theme of Rome and the key films, mini-series and factual series will revolve around this theme.

Some of the best series from the AETN international library, Crusades, Gold and Barbarians will be presented to Indian audiences by The History Channel in the special format of a Limited Edition Series.

Speaking on the new strategic positioning of the channel, Rajesh Sheshadri, vice-president marketing said, “We are looking at an exponential increase in viewership by 2008. This increase in viewership is a function of first, our distinct positioning whereby we are the only channel on History."

He added, "Second, the fact that we will debut familiar titles in entertaining formats; and third, versioning wherein the channel is also investing in providing its Hindi-speaking viewers with high quality versioned programming that will enhance their viewing experience and allow them to enjoy internationally acclaimed programmes.”

The channel is also planning innovative and integrated marketing initiatives to ensure the channel’s success in India.

Reaching more than 200 million viewers in 70 countries, versioned in 20 languages, The History Channel is the only international television network devoted exclusively to historical programming. A division of A&E Television Networks, it is marketed internationally by AETN International.

In India, the channel began broadcasting in November 2003 and claims to be available to 45 million C&S households. The History Channel comes to India through an affiliation between AETN international and NGC Network (India) Pvt. Ltd.

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