Thanks to the enthusiasm of history buffs, historical nonfiction has been a staple of cable programming since the explosion of new cable networks in the 1990s. In the late 1990s, historical programming was everywhere - it even had its own network in The History Channel - and you could be sure to find a documentary about World War II or the Civil War somewhere on your TV dial, no matter the time of day or night.
The History Channel debuted back in 1995, and in the beginning the network's programming was made up entirely of historical documentaries. The bulk of the programming focused on U.S. history, and there was an emphasis on military history. After a rebranding in 2008 that shortened the network's name to simply "History," the programming focus changed, as well. Historical documentaries still appear on occasion, but the majority of History's programming is reality-style series, pseudo-documentary paranormal series and other non-history-related nonfiction programs.
Despite History's deviation from its original mission, there's still plenty of historical nonfiction television being produced. Other cable networks such as the National Geographic Channel, History's spin-off Military History and FYI (formerly The Biography Channel) still air historical nonfiction specials, and historical subjects are still popular as specials on PBS and as stand-alone, independently produced features.