With a nearly 10-year-old involvement in sponsorship, the History channel is making some history of its own.

The cable network has blazed a trail in using sponsorship to engage advertisers and drive viewers, the latter of whom face an increasingly dizzying array of viewing options in today’s fragmented TV landscape.

Those efforts have played a role in the channel’s success: History in June reported a double-digit year-over-year increase in all key demos. That includes a 49 percent increase in total viewers, a 37 percent increase in 25-to-54-year-olds and a 27 percent increase in 18-to-49-year-olds.

History—which changed its name from The History Channel in 2008—has sponsored a diverse range of properties over the past decade including the City of New York, the NBA and the Kennedy Space Station.

And the cable channel plans to turn up the sponsorship volume even more following the April hiring of Samantha Maltin as senior vice president of marketing for History and H2.

The former Nickelodeon marketing exec plans to expand History’s already sizable sponsorship portfolio with the goal of accomplishing three objectives: elevate the History and H2 brands, showcase celebrities and monetize programming.  

“Do we plan to sponsor more events? Definitely,” she said.

The network has kicked off that effort with the History Cross-Country Cookout, a barbecue-themed mobile marketing program that will visit nine high-traffic events and public spaces from May through August.

History has inked official sponsorship status at most tour stops. Those include Cheyenne Frontier Days, CMA Music Festival and the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle.

The tour also stopped at the History 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a race the network has titled for the past two years.

The History channel leverages sponsorship to accomplish two primary objectives:   

Promote programming. With shows ranging from Ice Road Truckers to Pawn Stars and Swamp People, History focuses on NASCAR races, rodeos, motorcycle rallies and other events that draw its largely male demographic.

The company activates the ties with 360-degree marketing campaigns designed to draw viewers and potential viewers into the TV viewing experience.

“We want to create an immersive experience,” said Maltin.

For example, History used its partnership with Golden Boy Promotions and the May 5 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto to promote the new Hatfields & McCoys miniseries. The channel leveraged the pay-per-view by branding each corner of the ring under the Hatfield and McCoy names.

“We made it feel like History was part of the event, not the title sponsor.”

History also uses sponsorship to promote celebrities. Mike Wolfe from American Pickers appeared at the New York City stop of the History Cross-Country Cookout, while cast members from Pawn Stars served as grand marshals at the May 26 History 300 NASCAR race.

Engage advertisers. In addition to promoting talent, the network used the History 300 to strengthen its relationship with The Coca-Cola Co., an existing advertiser. The beverage giant titles the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, an event that takes place the day after the History 300.

The two companies leveraged the ties with an in-store promotion that dangled trips to the two races, a meet-and-greet with a driver in the Coke Racing Family and the chance to watch the race with the Pawn Stars cast.

The cross-promotion gave the show exposure at retail: Coke touted the promo at roughly 300 WilcoHess, LLC stores in the Southeast U.S.

The two companies ran a separate sweeps around American Restoration and cast member Rick Dale. The promo dangled a VIP package to the two races and a vintage Coca-Cola vending machine restored by American Restoration.

Coke touted the promo on products sold in the Southeast and on-air promotions on History. Fans could enter though www.history.com/coke.

In addition to sponsorship, History also uses licensing deals to build visibility and gain new revenue streams. For example, the network in May teamed with Artic Glacier, Inc. to launch a line of Ice Road Truckers packaged ice.

Like its partnership with Coca-Cola, the promotion affords retail exposure for the History channel and Ice Road Truckers. Artic Glacier touted the product on more than 2000 freezer clings at Walgreen Co., Safeway, Inc., 7-Eleven, Inc. and other national and regional chains.