Showtime (occasionally abbreviated as "SHO") is an American premium cable and satellite television network that serves as the flagship service of the Showtime Networks subsidiary of CBS Corporation, which also owns sister services The Movie Channel and Flix. Showtime's programming primarily includes theatrically released motion pictures and original television series, along with boxing and mixed martial arts matches, occasional stand-up comedy specials and made-for-TV movies.
The Showtime brand is used by a number of channels and platforms around the world, but primarily refers to the group of eight multiplex channels in the United States. As of August 2013, Showtime's programming is available to approximately 28,094,000 television households (24.60% of cable, satellite and telco customers) in the United States (27,867,000 subscribers or 24.40% of all households with pay television service receive at least Showtime's primary channel). The channel and its respective networks are headquartered at Paramount Plaza on the northern end of New York City's Broadway district.
Showtime launched on July 1, 1976 on a Viacom Cablevision cable television system in Dublin, California; the channel was originally owned by Viacom. The first program and television special to be broadcast on Showtime was Celebration, a concert special featuring Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd and ABBA. By the end of its first year on the air, Showtime had a total of 55,000 subscribers nationwide. On March 7, 1978, Showtime became a nationally distributed service after it was uplinked to satellite, turning it into a competitor with HBO and other pay cable networks.
In 1979, Viacom sold a 50% ownership interest in Showtime to the TelePrompTer Corporation. In 1981, Showtime adopted a 24-hour programming schedule (rival HBO would eventually follow suit in December of that year). In 1982, Group W Cable, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Corporation (which had acquired TelePrompTer the previous year), sold its stake in Showtime back to Viacom; the sale of Group W's stake in the channel occurred as the company had entered into a partnership with Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) to develop a competing premium service, The Disney Channel (Group W dropped out of the joint venture that September, due to disagreements over creative control and financial obligations). 1982 saw the premiere of Showtime's first made-for-cable movie Falcon's Gold and its first original series and children's program Faerie Tale Theatre.
In 1983, Showtime increased its national distribution on cable providers when competing premium service Spotlight ceased operations, effectively absorbing that channel's subscriber base. That year, Viacom formed a joint venture with Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment to operate Showtime, and Warner-Amex's competing pay service The Movie Channel, as part of a new company called Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. In 1985, Viacom acquired Warner-Amex's ownership interest in Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc., once again making the former company the sole owner of Showtime (coincidently, Warner-Amex co-owner Warner Communications would eventually acquire rivals HBO and Cinemax, when the company merged with Time Inc. in 1989 to form Time Warner). The subsidiary was renamed Showtime Networks, Inc. in 1988. Also in 1988, the company formed Showtime Event Television (now Showtime PPV) as a pay-per-view distributor of special event programming.
In 2000, Showtime launched "Showtime Interactive 24.7", a service that provided DVD-style interaction of its entertainment offerings. The following year in 2001, Showtime became one of the first cable networks to launch a high definition simulcast feed (with Star Trek: Insurrection becoming the first film on the network to be broadcast in HD); Showtime also began to provide Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound on select programs.In 1990, Showtime ventured into acquiring and premiering independent films exclusively for the channel as part of the 30-Minute Movie short filmanthology series. One of its first premieres, 12:01 PM, was nominated for an Academy Award, while 1992's Session Man won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. In the years that followed, Showtime expanded its acquisitions into the realm of feature-length fare, including the Adrian Lyne-directed 1997 remake of Lolita.
On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate into two companies (only six years after its acquisition of CBS), amid stagnation of the company's stock price; both companies would be controlled by Viacom parent National Amusements. The original Viacom was renamed CBS Corporation and acquired Showtime Networks along with CBS' broadcasting assets; Paramount Television (now the separate arms CBS Television Studios for network and cable production, and CBS Television Distribution for production of first-run syndicated programs and off-network series distribution); advertising firm Viacom Outdoor (renamed CBS Outdoor); Simon & Schuster; and Paramount Parks (which was later sold). The new Viacom kept Paramount Pictures, the MTV Networks and BET Networks cable divisions, andFamous Music (the latter was sold off in 2007).
Showtime runs an adult-oriented late night programming block called "Showtime After Hours" (which was briefly branded as "Showtime Late Night" during the mid-1990s) daily after 12 a.m. ET, which has run on the primary channel since the early 1980s; programs featured within the block include feature films, series produced specifically for broadcast during the block and occasional stand-up comedy specials. Until the formation of Showtime Family Zone in 2001, Showtime heavily incorporated programming aimed at children and teenagers as part of its daytime schedule; in particular, the main channel ran a late afternoon block of teen-oriented series on Sundays (such as Ready or Not, Chris Cross and Degrassi High), as well as a morning block of shows aimed at younger children (such as OWL/TV and The Busy World of Richard Scarry) during the early and mid-1990s, as well as a mid-afternoon film block called "Showtime Familytime" that ran during the 1980s and 1990s.
Softcore erotica programming has previously aired during the block, though adult films have been absent from Showtime's primary channel since the mid-2000s; the network began broadcasting a limited amount of original erotica series (such as Beach Heat: Miami) on its main channel in 2010, after having been absent for most of the previous decade. The network's multiplex channels Showtime 2 and Showcase also occasionally feature adult films during the overnight hours, though this has become less commonplace since late 2011.
Showtime has become known in recent years for the network's original television programs, the most popular of which include the crime drama Dexter, the dark comedy-drama Weeds and the drama/thriller series Homeland. Other notable past and present original series include Stargate SG-1 (which ran on Showtime for its first five seasons, before moving to the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) for the remainder of its run), Dead Like Me, Californication, Nurse Jackie,The Tudors, Shameless, Brotherhood, Soul Food, Queer as Folk, The L Word, The Big C, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and United States of Tara. From 2007 to 2013, multiplex service Showtime 2 broadcast an original program exclusive to that channel, the seasonal late night reality series Big Brother After Dark, a companion to sister broadcast network CBS' American adaptation of Big Brother; the program moved to TVGN (which since April 2013, is 50% owned by Showtime parent CBS Corporation) starting with the June 26, 2013 premiere of Big Brother's 15th season.
Showtime formerly produced its own original made-for-cable movies, originally branded as "Showtime Original Movies" until 1994 and "Showtime Original Pictures" thereafter until the channel discontinued producing television films in 2007. Showtime is also one of only two premium cable services (alongside Disney Channel during its existence as a premium channel prior to 1997) that has produced original movies aimed at family audiences; these films were originally broadcast under the separate banner "Showtime Original Pictures for Kids" from 1995 to 1997 and "Showtime Original Pictures for All Ages" from 1997 to 2005.
As of August 2013, Showtime – and sister channels The Movie Channel and Flix – maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network sister company CBS Films since 2007, The Weinstein Company since 2009 (including releases by Dimension Films; Netflix will assume the rights to The Weinstein Company's films starting in 2016), DreamWorks (featuring only live-action releases through Touchstone Pictures, as part of a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures), IFC Films, Miramax Films (including films released by Dimension Films), Summit Entertainment (for films released prior to 2013), WWE Films, Magnolia Pictures, First Look Studios and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Showtime also shows sub-runs – runs of films that have already received broadcast or syndicated television airings – of theatrical films from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (including content from subsidiaries Walt Disney Pictures,Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and former subsidiary and current independently operated studio Miramax), Samuel Goldwyn Films, Universal Studios (including content from subsidiary Focus Features), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer(including content from subsidiaries United Artists, Orion Pictures, and The Samuel Goldwyn Company), Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment (sub-run rights with the latter three studios are for films released prior to 2008). Although it does not hold the pay television rights to telecast recent films from 20th Century Fox – which are held by HBO, as of 2014 – Showtime does run independent films to which that studio owns the home video rights, regardless as to if they were not released theatrically (most notably The Passion of the Christ). In 2006, Showtime entered into a partial deal with Rogue Pictures to broadcast select films released by the studio (especially those originally produced for home video release).
The window between a film's initial release in theaters and its initial screening on Showtime and sister channels The Movie Channel and Flix is wider than the grace period leading to a film's initial broadcast on HBO, Cinemax or Starz. Films that Showtime has pay cable rights to will usually also run on The Movie Channel and Flix during the period of its term of licensing.
Future licensing agreementsEdit
In October 2013, Showtime announced that it entered into a four-year film licensing agreement with Open Road Films to broadcast feature films released by the studio between 2017 and 2020.
Former first-run contractsEdit
After its launch, Showtime entered into licensing agreements with several movie studios. Following its 1983 acquisition of a joint stake in The Movie Channel, Paramount Pictures (then-owned by Gulf+Western) signed a five-year exclusive first-run distribution deal with Showtime and The Movie Channel. On July 15, 1987, HBO signed a five-year deal with Paramount Pictures to broadcast 85 of their films released from May 1988 onward. After Paramount Pictures was purchased by Viacom in 1994, Showtime (which was also owned by Viacom at the time) signed a seven-year distribution deal with that studio which took effect in January 1998, following the expiration of Paramount's contract with HBO.
In 1986, Showtime signed an agreement with Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group (now Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures); its contract with Walt Disney Pictures expired after 1991, while output deals with Touchstone and Hollywood expired after 1996. Rival pay channel Starz signed a deal with Disney in 1994, while Touchstone and Hollywood films released from January 1997 onward were broadcast on Starz. By 1989, the channel had already made exclusive deals with Carolco Pictures (signed in 1988), Atlantic Entertainment Group, Cannon Films (both signed in 1986), Universal Studios, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Imagine Entertainment and Weintraub Films.
On April 13, 1990, Showtime signed an exclusive first-run film output deal with New Line Cinema; the deal expired after 1995. On July 1993, Encore signed an output deal with New Line Cinema, broadcasting its films released between 1996 and 2004. On November 22, 1993, Showtime signed exclusive first-run premium cable rights with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists, which were renewed for nine additional years in 2000. On March 5, 1996, Showtime announced a seven-year output deal with Phoenix Pictures, broadcasting that studio's titles released between 1996 and 2002. During that time, Showtime also had output deals with TriStar Pictures (between 1994 and 1999), Castle Rock Entertainment (which expired after 1999), PolyGram (which expired after 2001), and Artisan Pictures.
On December 4, 2008, Showtime signed a four-year exclusive first-run distribution deal with Summit Entertainment, broadcasting 42 of that studio's films that were released between 2009 and 2012. On May 27, 2011, rival premium channel HBO had signed an output deal with Summit, allowing films that were released between 2013 and 2017 to be broadcast on the channel.
Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGMEdit
The future of the channel was put into question after negotiations to renew film output deals with Paramount Pictures (which was separated from Showtime following the November 2005 split of Viacom and CBS into two separate companies, with CBS taking ownership of Showtime), MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment broke down, due to the failure between the studios and Showtime to agree on licensing fees for movies from the channel's three largest film distributors. All three studios then entered into a joint venture, Studio 3 Partners, to form Epix as a competitor to Showtime, HBO and Starz; Epix debuted in May 2009 as a broadband Internet service, with the television channel launching on October 30 of that year.
The loss of newer films from Paramount, MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment left Showtime without rights to any major studio's films for the first time in the channel's history, leaving "mini-majors" DreamWorks and The Weinstein Company as its principal film distributors, along with agreements with several independent studios.
Showtime broadcasts a limited amount of sports programming, which is produced by the channel's Showtime Sports division. Showtime also operates Showtime PPV (formerly Showtime Entertainment Television or SET), which broadcasts boxing matches and other select event programming for pay-per-view. Beginning in March 1986, Showtime's sports programming consisted largely of boxing matches produced under the banner Showtime Championship Boxing; in 2001, the network launched ShoBox: The New Generation, focusing primarily on up-and-coming boxers. In 2004, Showtime began broadcasting all domestic fights telecast on the channel in high definition. In December 2006, Showtime announced a deal to broadcast mixed martial arts matches from the then-newly formed Elite Xtreme Combat (or EliteXC), an MMA organization formed by Showtime Networks and ProElite, Inc., with all events broadcast under the banner ShoXC; the league folded two years later in 2008.
In 2008, Showtime acquired Inside the NFL, the longest-running program in the history of HBO, from that network after it had cancelled the seasonal analysis and interview program in February of that year; Inside the NFL moved to Showtime that September. In February 2009, Strikeforce announced a three-year broadcast agreement with Showtime, allowing it to broadcast up to 16 events per year, as well as a deal with sister network CBS for an option to produce up to four events for that network; Strikeforce ended its run on Showtime when the league folded in January 2013. In addition to broadcasting big-ticket Strikeforce events on Showtime, it also announced it would produce ShoMMA: Strikeforce Challengers, an event series highlighting up-and-coming fighters.
In 2010, Showtime debuted another original sports insider program Inside NASCAR. In 2011, Showtime expanded its MMA programming by televising events produced by M-1 Global, the Russian PTC company of popular Strikeforce fighter Fedor Emelianenko. In November 2012, Showtime debuted a sports-themed spinoff of CBS' long-running newsmagazine 60 Minutes, titled 60 Minutes Sports.
Showtime's original logo was a generic text logo in Kabel font surrounded by a starfield marquee. This logo was replaced in 1980 by a sphere containing a television screen (similar in resemblance to the logo used by Brazilian television network Rede Globo, but without a circle in the center of the screen), accompanied by a generic "Showtime" text in Avant Garde font. The screen was accompanied by an italic "Showtime" text in Franklin Gothic type with the top left portion of the "T" overlapping the top right portion of the "W" from 1984 to 1990, when the TV screen was dropped and the aforementioned italic text became the channel's logo from that point on until 1997. That year, the channel's current logo was introduced, featuring the network's name in a condensed Franklin Gothic-style typeface with the 'SHO' prefix imprinted in negative space on a circle (as with Cinemax's highlighting of 'MAX' in the logo it used from 1997 to 2011, the use of 'SHO' as the logo focal point comes from the channel's former TV Guide abbreviation in the magazine's local listings era).
Showtime began to brand its programming with digital on-screen graphic logos starting in 1999 (becoming one of the first American premium channels to do so), this originally pertained to only the main Showtime channel and Showtime 2 and was limited to being shown during promo breaks between programs; Showtime shows its logo bug intermittently during regular programming, though the rest of the Showtime channels (most of which including The Movie Channel and Flix – but with the exception of Showtime 2, which was already using a logo bug – did not begin to display on-screen logos until April 1, 2010) run theirs during all of their programming.
Since 2008, Showtime has aired promotions for upcoming programs at the conclusion of films shown on the main channel in primetime as well as during the closing credits of its original series seen on the main Showtime channel, Showtime 2 and Showcase (in the case of its original series, the standard production company credits are replaced with a marginalized credit sequence similar to those used by the major U.S. broadcast networks).