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When I watched cable tv in the US in 2007, and while watching cable tv in Australia in 2015 (which is mainly made up of American channels), I noticed that a lot of the documentary channels (channels about history, science, nature, and the like) had a lot of shows that either

  1. Were reality tv in format, such as Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch.
  2. Were about "controversial" topics (I'm not saying "Ancient Aliens", but "Ancient Aliens")

Have US cable tv documentary channels always been like this? If not, what caused the change?

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    No, documentary channels used to really show actual documentaries. I think they just realised it was cheaper to point a camera at a retard than to hire researchers and make something informative. And obviously they think we're all stupid too. – Crow T Robot Feb 6 '16 at 10:59
  • Cheaper, and sadly also more popular and lucrative. – Walt Feb 6 '16 at 11:33
  • Opiates for the masses. Cultural changes throughout the decades. – cde Feb 6 '16 at 16:26
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    Wikipedia calls the process Channel drift and TV Tropes calls it Network decay – Andrew Grimm Feb 6 '16 at 21:14
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According to the dubious Wikipedia on the History Channel:

It originally broadcast documentary programs and historical fiction series. However, since 2008, it has mostly broadcast a variety of reality television series such as Pawn Stars, Ax Men, and other non-history related content. Additionally, the network is frequently criticized by scientists, historians, and skeptics for broadcasting pseudo-documentaries, unsubstantiated and sensational investigative programming, such as Ancient Aliens, UFO Hunters, Brad Meltzer's Decoded and the Nostradamus Effect.

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