Launched by A&E Television Networks in 1995, History broadcasts a combination of scripted reality and documentary programs. Featuring award-winning original series as well as event specials, the network formerly known as The History Channel attempts to match its viewership with informative, engaging programming based on a variety of topics. Covering everything from the network’s Emmy Award-winning special about Gettysburg to its hit original series “Ice Road Truckers,” History offers quality entertainment combined with a historical perspective.
The Launch of The History Channel
The History Channel was launched by A&E Television Networks on January 1, 1995. The A&E company, standing for Arts&Entertainment, is a joint venture between the Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company. In addition to History, A&E Networks also runs several other networks, including A&E, Bio, Crime & Investigation Network, Lifetime, LMN, and Military History.
The History Channel, featuring the tagline, “Where the Past Comes Alive,” broadcast original documentary programs and historical fiction series when it began in 1995. Based out of New York City, the network enjoyed success by covering a broad range of historical periods and topics. In addition, The History Channel often organized its programming into themed weeks and marathons of similar programs. These subjects ranged from mythical creatures to UFOs, truck drivers, and apocalyptic scenarios after the destruction of man.
During this time, The History Channel received some criticism for its extensive coverage of World War II, earning the network the joking nickname “The Hitler Channel.” Soon after this criticism, most of the network’s military-themed programs were shifted to its sister network, Military History. The channel was also condemned for focusing almost exclusively on American history with an American bias. In response to this criticism, A&E Networks launched another sister network, History International, to handle more worldwide history. This network has since been rebranded as H2.
In 2008, A&E Networks decided to launch a new branding of The History Channel. The trademark “H” logo was retained, but the network dropped “The” and “Channel” from its title and became simply History. Additionally, the slogan of the channel shifted to the phrase, “History: Made Every Day.” This new tagline reflected a change in programming on the network as well. Rather than the previous line-up of documentaries and historical programs, the new History network began focusing its content on a variety of scripted reality series along with a number of other non-history shows.
Top History Programs
Throughout its programming since 1995, History has produced a number of acclaimed and popular television series, miniseries, and specials. Despite the network’s rebranding in 2008, many of these programs continue to be broadcast. Here are a few of the most notable:
1. “America The Story of Us” – This 12-hour series tells the story of how American was invented with a combination of realistic CGI animation, dramatic re-enactments, and interviews with some of the most knowledgeable and respected people in America.
2. “Mankind The Story of All of Us” – Like the story of America, this 12-hour series explores the history of the human race from the 10 billion years needed to form Earth through the creation of mankind and the journey to the current global nations.
3. “Pawn Stars” – Following the shop just outside Las Vegas belonging to the Harrison family, three generations of pawning experts, this series examines the art of assessing the value of pawned possessions while watching the family dynamics of the Harrisons.
4. “Ice Road Truckers” – This series details the escapades of veteran truck drivers battling against newcomers as they struggle to drive the big rigs across some of the most dangerous wintery terrain and ice-covered roads, all in an attempt to earn big money.
5. “Hatfields & McCoys” – One of the most star-studded and critically lauded miniseries, this 6-hour masterpiece depicts the decades-long legendary family feud between the former friends.
6. “American Pickers” – Antique pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz travel the country in this series, determined to locate some of the best forgotten relics and hidden treasures available.
7. “MysteryQuest” – In this series, a team of experts travels the world to solve some of the strangest and most baffling mysteries in a logical, step-by-step investigation.
8. “Swamp People” – Hidden deep in the heart of Louisiana is one of the largest American swamps and home of this reality series, which follows the inhabitants during the 30-day alligator hunting season that sustains them.