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The History Channel looks to strengthen weekdays primetime with dramas, factual shows

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MUMBAI: It has been six months since The History Channel (THC) went a repositioning from an infotainment channel to an entertainment one. After having consolidated its position on weekends with blocks like Jumbo Movies the channel is now looking to focus on its weekday slots.

To this end it will launch drama shows and factual shows. Speaking to indiantelevision.com this evening, THC India MD Nikhil Mirchandani says, “Our revamp, which marked a shift through the introduction of fresh content like films, mini series has worked for us. We target males 25+. There we have seen a 150 per cent growth in the weekly time viewers have spent on us each week since the revamp. Our reach has grown by 72 per cent and our share in primetime has more than doubled.

“We are now focussing on our weekdays primetime starting at 9 pm. Our aim is to create recognisable franchises here to grow viewer loyalty. So at 9 pm we will have dramas. New shows that we will launch are Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett playing the legendary detective. Then we have Sharpe with British actor Sean Bean. We will also air the mini series Kane And Abel which is based on Jeffrey Archer’s bestseller."

There is also Reilly - a spy story set in the 20th century - as well as Kennedy, about the late John F Kennedy. Mirchandani says that amny of these characters are already familiar with viewers to a certain extent.

Sherlock Holmes launches next week, with other shows to follow soon after. THC is reserving the 10 pm slot for factual shows. One show that will at 10 pm is Shootout, which looks at heroic acts and deeds done after the Second World War.

Other shows on the new, improved programming menu include Dogfight - a dramatic recreation of what might happen if say two airplanes fought each other - and Egypt: Engineering An Empire, which follows on the success that THC had earlier with Rome: Engineering An Empire.

Mirchandani says that the aim is to see stability in the weekday slot.

On the advertising front Mirchandani expects a 200 per cent growth in ad revenues for this fiscal ending 30 June 2007. That is because 60 new clients have come on board as Charter Partners. Earlier, when the repositioning took place, Samsung and Microsoft had come on board. A Charter Partner gets visibility across the prime properties. The clients he says come from different categories like finance, IT, automobiles, consumer durables.

The rate increase he says have been substantial given that THC spent a million dollars acquiring content with the repositioning. In terms of below the line marketing activities one innovation that THC has come up with is a Sherlock Holmes game which can be played online by visiting the channel's site. Here the participant gets to play detective and clues are laid out. If you solve the puzzle you win.

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