The History Channel: Where you can live the past

Jackson Thurman

MACS 320



The A&E Network, specifically the History Channel, attempts to brand the experience of their channel as a way to live the past today. This type of branding has given the A&E Network success as The History Channel is the 14th most viewed cabled channel in 2015 (Nielson). The History Channel and A&E use this type of branding strategy through the programs and regular series they produce, their social media presence and posts, and their commericals. This branding strategy can be seen all the way from a 1995 commercial advertising their channel on basic cable to today’s’ regular productions of Vikings and Hunting Hitler.

The History Channel is A&E Network’s most popular channel and it was also the channel that launched the network back in 1995. Strictly judging from the shows they produce today, The History Channel’s branding strategy seems to be centered around the idea of providing the people of today, the experiences of the past. The History Channel’s current most popular productions are Vikings, The Curse of Oak Island, and Hunting Hitler. Vikings is a drama/action TV series that takes Viking lore and history and turns it into an entertaining form of storytelling. On the other hand, Hunting Hitler and The Curse of Oak Island are two productions that follow casts of explorers and historians that explore the past and attempt to reveal a new truth or find treasure. All three of these shows take history of the past to provide an entertaining and modern production of a boring school subject. These productions brand The History Channel as a cable network that provides the people of today a link to the past in an entertaining medium. The History Channel in turn commodifies this experience through merchandise, commercial advertisements, and DVD’s.

The History Channel also promotes their brand through their social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and their website. The url’s to these sites will be listed at the end of this essay. More recently, the history channel has begun to connect with their audience through the upcoming 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Their twitter account has made posts encouraging all of its followers to share pictures and stories of Pearl Harbor Veterans with them through their media campaign, #HonorAVet. This campaign is just another strategy that The History Channel uses to brand themselves as a cable network that takes history and reproduces it for the modern day audience. The History Channel’s Facebook about page also describes themselves as a channel that, “that connect viewers with history in an informative immersive and entertaining manner.”  This quote is a self assessment of The History Channel and it tells viewers that their branding strategy is intentional and reproducible. The History Channel’s website mainly promotes the TV shows and merchandise that they provide, but the website also has a “This Day in History” tab that takes historical moments in the past that happened on the current day and presents it to the reader via video. This modern medium presenting historical factoids connects the viewer to the past simply on the basis of the current day and is an extremely effective branding strategy.

The final strategy The History Channel uses to brand the network is through their advertisements and logo. The History Channels branding strategy hasn’t changed since its conception in 1995, and this can be seen from the commercial the network used to advertise the program to cable viewers. The url to the video will be linked at the end of the essay with the social media urls. The commercial advertises that The History Channel where History is Alive and, “All of History, All in one place.” This advertisement places The History Channel as a vehicle that will resurrect the dead parts of history and present them as a living, breathing, current history. The advertisement also promises that The History Channel will provide “All of History, All in one place,” a seemingly impossible task, but The History Channel can do it. This idea is called a “Promise spot” a term used by Sarah Banet-Wiser in her article where she discussed the Nickelodeon brand. The logo of The History Channel is very simple and it’s general look hasn’t changed since 1995. The logo is a Gold “H” underlined by a bold red line and a triangle to the left. The interesting part about the logo is that is has the word “history” underneath and nothing else. If someone just stumbled upon the logo with knowing it was a TV channel, they might think this is a logo for a textbook which promotes The History Channel’s brand as a network that produces history and only history.

In conclusion, The History Channel, a subsidiary of A&E networks, brands itself as a network that presents the past today. Through its current productions, social media presence, and logo and advertisements, The History Channel takes historical knowledge and presents it in a modern medium to entertain its audience. The History Channel commodifies this experience of living the past through merchandise, commercial advertisements, and DVD’s which allow the channel to keep producing shows like Vikings and The Curse of Oak Island. Even though the History Channel is down in viewership by 18% from 2014 to 2015, it is still a popular network and the brand it has created is the reason for its popularity.

Works Cited:

Banet-Weiser, Sarah. “The Nickelodeon Brand.” Kids Rule! (2007): 69-103. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.


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