Bright Prospects for Discovery Communications

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Discovery Communications (DISCA) has introduced new programming and a rebranded channel at the Television Critics Association semiannual press tour -- a gathering of writers who cover the TV industry.

The company owns the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, and has joint ventures with Oprah Winfrey for the Oprah Winfrey Network and with Hasbro (HAS) for the Hub, a children's network.

At the TCA meeting, Discovery confirmed it is re-branding its Military Channel to American Heroes Channel beginning March 3. The move comes as the company focuses on more history-based, narrative-style documentaries. The launch comes with several new original shows that could provide a big boost in viewers and advertising dollars.

The channel's big original show will be called Against the Odds, with Rob Lowe serving as the narrator. The show is about soldiers on the battlefield, and to me, it represents bridging old military programming with current events. The show should also see some interest from women. The new American Heroes Channel should also consider a military homecoming show to try to attract more female viewers.

American Heroes Channel will be available in 62 million homes. Discovery says the channel will have 17 new series and specials in its first year, including four new shows that will air in the first week: Against the Odds, Raw War: The Lost Film of Dak To, CIA: Declassified and Codes & Conspiracies.

The channel's new name will mark the third name in the channel's history. When the channel began in 1999, it was known as Discovery Wings, a name it kept until 2005.

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