Forget past presidents and wars. The History Channel is defying its own name, looking to the future to make its fortune.
Image via Wikipedia
For as long as I can remember, the History Channel was your station for…well, history. But over the last few years, HC has apparently had an identity crisis. And it’s paying off.
Instead of just being a channel that most people associate with that class they nearly failed in high school, now it’s an adrenaline-pumping rush of testosterone. Yep, the Reality TV bug hit the History Channel. Now when you turn to HC you get Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, Gangland, UFO Hunters and Expedition Africa.
What do these shows have to do with history? While trucking isn’t exactly a new occupation, it’s not something you’d see in a history book. I’ll give Ax Men a bit more props. Lumberjacks have roots in our history. The show just happens to show it “Reality TV” style. And I’ll also recognize the historical significance of Expedition Africa, an adventure show where explorers retrace a famous expedition. But I just don’t know what to think about Life After People. This isn’t history. This isn’t even current. This show revolves around scientific speculation on how the world will change after mankind is gone. And I really don’t know what to say about UFO Hunters. Isn’t there a SciFi channel for that?
Despite these relatively new shows having questionable relevance to the topic of history, what they do have are viewers. Last May the History Channel recorded its highest rated month (in key demos), in large part thanks to the popular Ice Road Truckers. And their Expedition Africa is also proving to be a hit for the cable channel.
And could these shows end up doing with your High School history teacher couldn’t? Get people interested in history!? Picture this: you turn to HC for Ice Road Truckers and in the commercial break you see a promo for another HC show on WWII battles. Maybe you’ll stick around to see that.
Admittedly, I’ve gotten used to the History Channel having shows that aren’t so much about history. And good for them to start getting some major ratings. I just wonder how many more of these types of reality shows History Channel will air before it finally considers changing its name. In any case, I’ll be watching.