Armed with a new brand and rising ratings, the American Heroes Channel (AHC) will look to reach young and female viewers with new original specials and miniseries that focus more broadly on historical events and personalities.
Since its March 3 rebrand, the Discovery Communications-owned AHC, formerly Military Channel, has achieved ratings highs with new shows such as Against the Odds, an original documentary series featuring first-hand accounts of U.S. soldiers under fire.
In its first week, the network averaged 324,000 primetime viewers, its best performance since the Military Channel launched in 2005. That number was topped in week two, with AHC averaging 328,000 viewers for the week of March 10. By comparison, Military Channel’s February 2014 primetime average audience was 211,000, up from 204,000 the prior year.
“The immediate ratings success said to me that people understood why we changed the name and the spirit behind the name American Heroes Channel,” Kevin Bennett, the AHC general manager, said.
The network will seek to further expand its viewership with a new slate of programming intended to appeal beyond its core adult 25-54 male audience, according to Bennett. The Military Channel moniker was a turnoff to many female viewers, but Bennett hopes the new AHC brand will be more welcoming to women, he said.
“Primarily we do want to bring in a younger audience, but we also see an opportunity to get women to watch the network,” he said. “We were one of the most male-skewing networks on television — just to get some women to watch the network as part of bringing in a broader audience would be great.”
Several new shows on AHC’s upfront slate are intended to accomplish those viewership goals, Bennett said, including One Giant Leap, a documentary special examining the tragedies, fears and pressures of NASA and the U.S. space program in the 1960s.
A three-part special debuting later this year, The American Revolution, chronicles the was for U.S. independence, according to network officials.
New series on the docket include The Raid, a sixpart series which follows the history of elite military outfits such as the U.S. Rangers and Navy Seals; WWII: Last Heroes, about the final years of the Allied campaign during the Second World War; Secrets of the Arsenal, about the search for undiscovered pieces of history through searches of the nation’s museums and collections; and A Different Destiny, imagining what might have happened if historical events were altered.
America: Facts vs. Fiction will also return for a second season.
“What we’re really trying to do is expand the brand from where we were as the Military Channel and go deeper into history and be there during these iconic moments,” Bennett said. “We want to bring more emotion and feel what it was like on a personal level during these iconic events in history — the loss, the sacrifice, the triumph and all of the emotions that go with these moments.”
American Heroes Channel is looking to screen more shows that women will want to watch.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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