TCADeadlineDiscovery is renaming its Military Channel — now called American Heroes Channel, as of March 3. “This newly renamed network is an intersection of miltiary and history programming, and looks to substantially broaden its current appeal, said Henry Schleiff, who oversees the network among other Discovery platforms.  That includes programming about fireman, policemen, AmericanHeroesChannel“and those who don’t necessarily wear a uniform.” The emphasis will still be on male viewers, he added. Heroism transcends the military, TV critics attending the TCA Winter Press Tour 2014 were told — and the explanation that when the channel launched in the midst of two wars, military and military issues were hot. American Heroes Channel’s first year will include 17 new series and specials, with four original series and specials launching in the first week. Premiere week programming will include: Raw War: The Lost Film Of Dak To,  Against the Odds,  CIA: Declassified, and Codes & Conspiracies.

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 1The network then moved straight into its military show Q&A session for Against The Odds, billed as “the real-life Band Of Brothers,”  featuring, among others, the genuinely emotional — not often seen at the press tour — World War II vet William Steele Sr, who noted,  “This country was united” during WWII. “Roosevelt and Eisenhower were together. That’s what we need now,” he said, getting choked up. “War – we will always have them somehow…will be somebody shooting at one another. The bombing of us — that united us and everybody was supportive of us.” He added: “When I came home from overseas —  I get a little emotional — when I come home and got off the ship in San Francisco, there was no band,” Steele said, fighting tears. “I walked down the plank…to a plot of grass and kissed it…. When you’re in war you don’t fight for honor — you fight for defense of each other. The heroes of war are the ones that didn’t come home.”

Here’s today’s announcement:

(Pasadena, CA)—Discovery Communications, Inc. announced today it will change the name of the Military Channel to American Heroes Channel (AHC). In 62 million homes, American Heroes Channel expands on the Military Channel’s broadens its marching orders from  “honoring the great defenders of our freedom” to also “providing a rare glimpse into major events that shaped our world and the trailblazers and unexpected advocates who made a difference.” The brand expansion to American Heroes Channel features an expanded mix of programming targeted to an audience of P25-54, with an emphasis on men, and will be supported by on-air, off-air and online marketing elements rolling out starting in a few weeks.

The only network dedicated to the timeless stories in which a challenge appears – be it a situation or a villain – and a hero arises, American Heroes Channel explores compelling and uplifting true stories of the bold men and women who have distinguished themselves by their actions. These are the stories of people and events that transcend time and place: from the heroes of Omaha Beach, to the scientists who worked tirelessly during the Space Race, to the SEAL Team Six takedown of Osama Bin Laden, to a young Marine who saved lives during Hurricane Katrina. These stories bridge the connection between lessons of past and legends of today, and demonstrate – for all generations –how courage and conviction shape the future.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to provide more history-based, narrative-style documentary programming that viewers have come to know and love from Discovery Communications. The American Heroes Channel will be the next great platform for Discovery to engage and entertain an information-hungry audience with a network that provides an exciting intersection of military and history programming,” said David Zaslav, President and Chief Executive Officer, Discovery Communications.

“Although America is a country born from acts of heroism on the battlefield, true heroism isn’t reserved solely for military,” said Kevin Bennett, General Manager, American Heroes Channel. “We know our viewers love the stories of real-world valor presented by our signature military series, and American Heroes Channel will remain the destination for military fans. However, we’re excited to offer viewers a more diverse voice and storytelling style with American Heroes Channel that captures the best of the Military Channel’s niche appeal while providing viewers with additional insight into contemporary world events and biographical stories.”