showtime!

Showtime

[shoh-tahym]
Showtime is a subscription television brand used by a number of channels and platforms around the world, but primarily refers to a group of channels in the United States.

History

Showtime primarily shows motion pictures as well as some original programming and occasional boxing matches. Showtime, originally a service of Viacom, went on the air on July 1, 1976, first shown on a local cable system in Dublin, California. On March 7, 1978, it expanded to the national market via satellite, competing with HBO. In 1979, Viacom sold 50% of Showtime to TelePrompTer.

In 1982, Westinghouse, who had acquired TelePrompTer the previous year, sold its share of Showtime back to Viacom. In 1983, Viacom and Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment merged Showtime and The Movie Channel to form Showtime Networks, Inc.. 1984 saw the premiere of Showtime's first original movie, The Ratings Game, both starring, and directed by, Danny DeVito. In 1985, Viacom acquired Warner-Amex's cable properties, including their share of Showtime Networks.

In 1990, Showtime ventured into acquiring and premiering independent films directly for the channel, originally as part of its 30-Minute Movie anthology series of short films. One of its first premieres, , was nominated for an Academy Award. In the years that followed, Showtime expanded its acquisitions into the realm of feature-length fare, including the critically acclaimed remake of Lolita, directed by Adrian Lyne.

In the early 2000s, Showtime launched several additional multiplex channels including Showtime Too (a pun on its previous name, Showtime 2), Showcase (formerly Showtime 3), Showtime Beyond and Showtime Extreme. Showtime had also launched several channels exclusively for digital cable: Showtime Family Zone, Showtime Next, and Showtime Women.

Showtime Networks also owns the channels The Movie Channel, The Movie Channel Xtra and Flix. In addition, it manages Sundance Channel, which is a joint venture of CBS Corporation, Robert Redford and NBC Universal. Each multiplex channel offers movies and programs fitting each channel's particular theme. Premieres of popular movies are usually made on the primary channel.

In 2000, Showtime launched the "Showtime Interactive 24.7" channel—providing DVD-like interaction opportunities to its entertainment offerings.

In the 2000s, Showtime began test marketing a subscription-video-on-demand SVOD system. Now there is a Showtime subscription-video-on-demand channel called Showtime On Demand, which users are able to see episodes of Showtime original series, movies, adult programming and boxing. This channel is only available on digital cable in the US.

Showtime also became one of the first cable TV networks to broadcast an HDTV version of its channel, along with Dolby Digital sound.

In 2005, Showtime became a subsidiary of the newly renamed CBS Corporation, after the CBS/Viacom split of that year.

Channels

Showtime operates eight multiplex channels and a high definition channel. (The abbreviation in parenthesis is used as an on-screen identifier and in programing guides.)

  • Showtime (SHO)
  • Showtime 2 (SHO2): Secondary channel. It was previously known as Showtime Too.
    • Showtime 2 HD (SHO2HD): A high definition simulcast of Showtime 2 in the 1080i format
  • Showtime Beyond (SHOB): A mix of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror films as well as series.
  • Showtime Extreme (SHOX): Action & adventure, thrillers, gangster and martial arts films.
  • Showtime Family Zone (SHOF): Family oriented programming. All pictures are 'G', 'PG', or 'PG-13' rated.
  • Showtime Next (SHON): Interactive service that is geared towards adults 18-24.
  • Showcase (SHOC): Similar to Showtime Too. Previously known as Showtime 3 (SHO3).
  • Showtime Women (SHOW): Targeted to women.

Showtime also packages the Eastern and Pacific feeds of the primary and multiplex services.

Original Programming

Current Programming

Branding

Showtime's launch logo made in 1976 was a circle with a TV screen inside (identical to TV Globo's, but without the circle in the center.) From 1984 to 1990, it was accompanied by a bold "SHOWTIME" script. The TV screen was dropped in 1986 and the circle was dropped in the early 1990s, and the script took over as the primary logo. The current Showtime logo consisting of the network's name still in all caps with the 'SHO' imprinted on a circle was implemented when the network rebranded itself in 1997. The logo which is slightly similar to Cinemax's current logo introduced the same year, is shown most of the time with just the circle 'SHO' (formerly the network's shortened name within TV Guide listings).

Following in the footsteps of Starz, the main Showtime networks brand many of its films with transparent logos of each respective network, to the chagrin of many who would rather see clean screenings of movies with no commercial branding whatsoever. Cinemax also brands films and series with logos, which usually only appear for a few minutes before being removed and reappear later on.

Unlike other premium channels, Showtime has recently begun to air banner advertising for its upcoming shows during movies, original content.

Logos

Movies

After its launch, Showtime signed exclusive first-run agreements with several movie studios. After being acquired by Viacom in 1994, Paramount Pictures began an output deal with Showtime (then also owned by Viacom), effective after 1997, which lasted 10 years. After the old Viacom was split in two corporations, the output deal with Paramount was not renewed after 2007, thus the pay-cable rights will transfer in 2009 to a new premium channel initiated in part by Viacom. Showtime has also agreements with MGM Studios, Lions Gate Films, IFC Films (which it shares broadcasting rights with Starz), ThinkFilm, certain films put out by The Weinstein Company (those that are distributed theatrically in conjunction with MGM Studios), and the newly re-formed United Artists (still a subsidiary of MGM). In 2008, the channel signed a deal with First Look Pictures to air their films.

On December 11, 2005, Paramount announced that it had purchased DreamWorks SKG in a deal worth $1.6 billion. It is still unclear when Showtime will add films from the studio onto its viewing schedule, as films being put out by the studio are still part of the studio's output deal with HBO.

Though not owning the broadcasting rights to show first-run movies from 20th Century Fox, Showtime has been able to show independent films the studio owns the home video rights to, even if they didn't release them theatrically. Most notably being Mel Gibson's controversial 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ. Others include Party Monster, Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, Woman Thou Art Loosed and Donnie Darko.

As of 2006, Showtime has a partial deal with Rogue Pictures, allowing them to broadcast particular films put out by the studio (especially those originally produced for video), including Carlito's Way: Rise to Power and Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

Showtime also plays a lot of classic movies from United Artists, Columbia Pictures, and some early/mid '90s movies from Miramax Films and Warner Bros. (usually ones that are, at least, 13 years old from their initial theatrical exhibition).

Usually films which Showtime has pay-cable rights will also run on The Movie Channel during its time of license.

Even though Showtime doesn't have an output deal with certain titles from Universal Pictures, a number of films from Universal are played on Sundance Channel since the channel is a joint venture of Showtime, Universal, and The Sundance Institute.

The future of the channel was put into question when it was announced that three of its major suppliers of films Paramount Pictures, MGM, and Lionsgate, as well as their respected subsidiaries (Paramount Vantage and United Artists), would be teaming up together to form a new premium movie channel, set to launch in September 2009. This is primary due to the company split-up of parent company Viacom into two separate entities, Viacom and CBS, the latter owning Showtime. Paramount Pictures' contract with the channel expired January 2008. This includes such films as Cloverfield and Iron Man being available to the new channel upon its initial run. MGM and Lionsgate's contracts expire at the end of 2008. It is unclear whether of not this deal will include films from DreamWorks Pictures, given that it was purchased by Paramount Pictures and their feature films are distributed theatrically by Paramount.

On July 15, 2008, it was announced that Showtime had signed a seven-year deal with The Weinstein Company to exclusively air their films during their initial premium-channel broadcasts, starting with their 2009 film slate. This includes films such as Nine, All Good Things and Quentin Tarantino's much-anticipated Inglorious Bastards. The deal also includes films from the studio's subsidiary Dimension Films.

Showtime Around the World

Showtime has two main pay TV networks that operate using its name; Showtime Australia and Showtime Arabia. It also has several channels that are licenced to use its name; Showtime Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), Showtime Extreme (Spain), and others.

See also

External links

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