Showtime (TV network)

This article is about the U.S. television network. For other uses, see Showtime (disambiguation).
Launched July 1, 1976 (1976-07-01)
Owned by Showtime Networks
(CBS Corporation)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Slogan Brace Yourself (primary)
Hold on Tight (secondary)
Country United States
Language English
Spanish (via SAP audio track; some films may be broadcast in their native language and subtitled into English)
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters New York City, New York
Sister channel(s) The Movie Channel,
Smithsonian Channel,
Timeshift service Showtime East,
Showtime West,
Showtime 2 East,
Showtime 2 West,
Showcase East,
Showcase West,
Showtime Beyond East,
Showtime Beyond West,
Showtime Extreme East,
Showtime Extreme West,
Showtime Family Zone East,
Showtime Family Zone West,
Showtime Next East,
Showtime Next West,
Showtime Women East,
Showtime Women West
DirecTV 545 Showtime (east; HD/SD)
546 Showtime (west; HD/SD)
547 Showtime 2 (HD/SD)
548 Showcase (HD/SD)
549 Showtime Extreme (HD/SD)
550 Showtime Beyond (HD)
551 Showtime Next (HD)
552 Showtime Women (HD)
1545 Showtime On Demand
Dish Network 318 Showtime (east; HD/SD)
319 Showtime (west; HD/SD)
320 Showtime 2 (HD/SD)
321 Showcase (HD/SD)
322 Showtime Extreme
323 Showtime Beyond
Available on most U.S. cable systems Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability
Verizon FiOS 865–874 (HD)
365–380 (SD)
AT&T U-verse 1852–1859 (HD)
852–866 (SD)
Streaming media
Showtime Anytime
(U.S. cable internet subscribers only; requires login from pay television provider to access content)
Apple TV
Playstation Vue
Internet Protocol television[1]

Showtime 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 July 2015, Showtime's programming is available to approximately 28.693 million television households (24.7% of cable, satellite and telco customers) in the United States (28.516 million subscribers or 24.5% of all households with pay television service receive at least Showtime's primary channel).[2][3] The channel and its corresponding networks are headquartered at Paramount Plaza on the northern end of New York City's Broadway district.


Early history (1976–1982)

Showtime launched on July 1, 1976 on Times-Mirror Cable systems in Escondido, Long Beach and Palos Verdes, California through the conversion of 10,000 subscribers of the previous Channel One franchise. The following week on July 8, Showtime launched on Viacom Cablevision's system in Dublin, California;[4] the channel was originally owned by Viacom.[5] The first program and television special to be broadcast on Showtime was Celebration, a concert special featuring performances by 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.[4] 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.[6]

In 1979, Viacom sold a 50% ownership interest in Showtime to the TelePrompTer Corporation.[4] On July 4, 1981, Showtime adopted a 24-hour programming schedule (rival HBO would eventually follow suit in December of that year).[7] In 1982, Group W Cable, a subsidiary of Westinghouse Electric Corporation (which had acquired TelePrompTer the previous year), sold its 50% stake in Showtime back to Viacom for $75 million;[4] 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[8]). 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.

Formation of Showtime Networks and ownership by Viacom (1982–2005)

In August 1982, MCA Inc. (then-owner of Universal Pictures), Gulf+Western (then-owner of Paramount Pictures) and Warner Communications reached an agreement to jointly acquire The Movie Channel (TMC), in which the three companies combined would acquire a controlling 75% interest in the service (with each holding a 25% ownership stake) from Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment.[9] The proposal was motivated by the studios wanting to increase their share of revenue for licensing rights to their films to premium television services, as well as concerns that HBO's dominance of that market and its pre-buying of pay cable rights to films prior to their theatrical release would result in that service holding undue negotiating power for the television rights, resulting in a lower than suitable licensing fee rate the studios would be paid for individual films. The three companies officially announced their agreement in principle to acquire interests in TMC on November 11, 1982.[10][11][12] Subsequently, in late December of that year, the U.S. Department of Justice (which had blocked a similar attempt by MCA, Gulf+Western, 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures to create a competing pay service, Premiere, in an antitrust case ruling two years earlier in January 1981) launched a routine preliminary inquiry into the proposed partnership.[13]

On January 7, 1983, Viacom International added itself as a partner and drafted an amendment to the proposal to consolidate The Movie Channel with Showtime. Under the revised proposal, the four studios would each own a 22.58% stake in the two networks, with American Express owning a 9.68% minority interest. In addition, the consortium would appoint a management team separate from those employed by the two channels – which would continue to operate as separate services – to operate the joint venture. However, the deal ran into regulatory hurdles since Warner, Universal and Paramount received 50% of their respective total revenue from film releases and licensing fees from premium services; furthermore, Showtime and TMC combined would control about 30% of the pay cable marketplace, creating an oligopoly with HBO (which, in conjunction with Cinemax, controlled 60% of the market).[11][12][14]

After a four-month investigation resulted in the Department of Justice filing a civil antitrust lawsuit against the five parties to block the Showtime-TMC merger on June 10, 1983, the Department asked Warner and American Express to restructure the deal during hearings for the case.[15] The Department's decision – citing concerns, including some expressed by HBO management, that combining the assets of Showtime and TMC would stifle competition in the sale of their programming and that of other pay cable services to cable providers – was despite the fact that, under the original proposal, MCA, Gulf+Western and Warner had each agreed to continue licensing films released by their respective movie studios to competing pay television networks.[11][12] The partners involved in the merger would also set standard prices for films that were acquired for broadcast on The Movie Channel and Showtime, either those produced by the studio partners or by unassociated film studios. To address the Justice Department's concerns over the deal, the four partners submitted another revised proposal for consideration on July 19, that included guarantees of conduct agreeing that Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. would not receive higher residual licensing payments for films acquired by Showtime and The Movie Channel than that paid by other studios, and that all four partners would not permit the two channels in the venture to pay lower fees for films produced by three studio partners than that paid by smaller pay television services for the same films.[16]

After the revised proposal was rejected on July 28, Warner Communications and American Express restructured the purchase to include only Viacom as a partner, bowing Gulf+Western and MCA out from the partnership. The changes – which Justice Department officials acknowledged would "prevent any anti-competitive effect from arising" following the merger, by allowing other premium services to enter the market should the venture significantly raise licensing fee prices for films – led the Justice Department to drop its challenge to the merger agreement on August 12; the Department formally approved the deal the following day on August 13.[11][12][17][18] When the deal was completed on September 6, 1983, the operations of The Movie Channel and Showtime were folded into a new holding company, Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc., which was majority owned by Viacom (controlling 50% of the venture's common stock as well as investing $40 million in cash), with Warner Communications (which owned 31%) and Warner-Amex (which owned the remaining 19% interest) as minority partners.[19][20]

As the consolidation of its operations with The Movie Channel was ongoing, in 1983, Showtime increased its national distribution on cable providers when competing premium service Spotlight ceased operations, effectively absorbing that channel's subscriber base.[4]

Showtime logo, used from 1984 to 1997; a 3D circle containing a TV screen (which was originally used as the channel's primary logo dating back to 1979) was used alongside this logo from 1984 to 1988. This logo was also used on Showtime Australia until 2009.

On August 10, 1985, after Time Inc. and cable provider Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) jointly submitted a bid to buy the company for $900 million and the assumption of $500 million in debt as well as an earlier offer by American Express the previous month to buy out Warner's share of the company (under a clause in the agreement that allowed either company the option of buying out their partner's stake in Warner-Amex), Warner Communications exercised an option to acquire American Express' 50% share of Warner-Amex Cable Communications for $450 million. Among the options, barring that it chose to sell Viacom a 50% interest in the company for $450 million, the deal originally excluded Warner-Amex's 19% interest in Showtime-The Movie Channel, Inc.; that interest would have reverted to Warner, which intended to operate Warner-Amex as a wholly owned subsidiary.[21][22][23]

Two weeks later on August 26, Viacom acquired Warner Communications and Warner-Amex's combined 50% ownership interest in Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. as well as full ownership of the Warner-Amex and public shareholder interests in MTV Networks for $671.7 million, giving Viacom exclusive ownership of both networks and once again making it the sole owner of Showtimethrough its $500 million cash payment and acquisition of 1.625 million shares from Warner for the latter's 31% stake in Showtime/The Movie Channel and Warner-Amex's 19% interest in the unit and its 60% interest in MTV Networks (Viacom owned Showtime alone or jointly with other companies – TelePrompTer Corporation, and later briefly, its successor Group W Cable – from the time it launched in July 1976). The buyout, part of an option given by Warner in its purchase of American Express' interest in MTV, was exercised in part to finance much of the buyout of Showtime/The Movie Channel without borrowing any money (ironically, Warner Communications would eventually acquire rivals HBO and Cinemax, when the company merged with Time Inc. in 1989 to form Time Warner).[24][25][26][27] 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 1990, Showtime ventured into acquiring and premiering independent films exclusively for the channel as part of the 30-Minute Movie short film anthology 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.[6] 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.

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.[28][29]

Under CBS Corporation ownership (2005–present)

On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate itself into two companies (only six years after the company's acquisition of CBS), both of which would be controlled by Viacom parent National Amusements, amid stagnation of the company's stock price. When the split was completed on December 31, 2005, the original Viacom was restructured as CBS Corporation and acquired Showtime Networks along with CBS' broadcasting assets (including the CBS television network, UPN and the company's broadcast group, which became CBS Television Stations), 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 to Cedar Fair, L.P. on June 30, 2006). A new company that assumed the Viacom name kept Paramount Pictures, the MTV Networks and BET Networks cable divisions, and Famous Music (the latter of which was sold to Sony-ATV Music Publishing in May 2007).[30][31]


List of channels

Depending on the service provider, Showtime provides up to fifteen multiplex channels – eight 24-hour multiplex channels, seven of which are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition (with the exception of Showtime Family Zone, which broadcasts solely in standard definition) – as well as a subscription video-on-demand service (Showtime On Demand).[32] Showtime broadcasts its primary and multiplex channels on both Eastern and Pacific Time Zone schedules. The respective coastal feeds of each channel are usually packaged together (though most cable providers only offer the east and west coast feeds of the main Showtime channel), resulting in the difference in local airtimes for a particular movie or program between two geographic locations being three hours at most.

Subscribers to the separate premium film service The Movie Channel, which is also owned by CBS Corporation, do not necessarily have to subscribe to Showtime in order to receive TMC; both The Movie Channel and co-owned fellow movie service Flix are typically sold together in a package (although in the case of Flix, this depends on whether that channel is carried on a particular television provider), though DirecTV and Dish Network alternately sell TMC through a separate film tier; this package was known in the late 1990s and early 2000s as Showtime Unlimited (and sometimes included SundanceTV when it was the Sundance Channel, as Showtime held a stake in it during the era).

Channel Description and programming

The flagship channel; Showtime features blockbuster movies, first-run feature films, stand-up comedy specials and documentaries, championship boxing and mixed martial arts events. The channel also carries original series, with newer episodes primarily being shown on Sunday and Monday evenings.

Showtime 2
(alternately known as
A secondary channel that offers a separate schedule of movies, original series and specials. Launched on October 1, 1991,[33] the channel was previously named Showtime Too from 2001 to 2006.

Similar to Showtime 2, Showcase features movies, first-run feature films and original made-for-cable films originally produced for Showtime. Launched in 1996, the channel was previously named "Showtime 3" until July 1, 2001.[34] This channel is not affiliated in any way with other channels using the "Showcase" name that exist in other countries, such as those in Canada or Australia.

Showtime Beyond
Launched in September 1999,[35] Showtime Beyond features a mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror films, as well as made-for-cable science fiction series produced for Showtime.

Showtime Extreme
Launched on March 10, 1998, Showtime Extreme airs action and adventure films, thrillers, gangster films and sporting events (including mixed martial arts and boxing matches). The channel carries over 60 movies each month, along with a Sunday double feature spotlighting a different action star.

Showtime Family Zone
(alternately known as
SHO Family Zone)
Launched in March 2001,[34] Showtime Family Zone features family-oriented programming, including movies and specials aimed at a younger audience. All movies seen on the channel are rated G, PG or PG-13 (or the equivalent TV-G, TV-PG or TV-14); due to its family-targeted format, Showtime Family Zone does not broadcast any R-rated movies or TV-MA rated programming.

Showtime Next
(alternately branded on-air
as SHO Next)
Launched in March 2001,[35] Showtime Next features movies geared towards adults between 18 and 34 years old. The channel features over 50 films each month, including original made-for-cable movies, and live action and animated short films; it also broadcasts documentaries and concert specials.

Showtime Women
Launched in March 2001,[34] Showtime Women broadcasts feature films, Showtime original series and specials geared primarily at a female audience.


In 1991, after HBO and Cinemax debuted the first premium television multiplex service in the United States, Showtime followed with the testing of its own secondary service – Showtime 2 – on October 1 of that year on two systems operated by TeleCable (one of these systems, TeleCable's Racine, Wisconsin operation, had also participated in the multiplexing test for HBO and Cinemax).[33] In April 1994, Showtime announced the creation of a new themed multiplex service, consisting of five channels: Spanish language service Showtime En Espanol; family-oriented Showtime Family Television; action-oriented service Showtime Action Television; a service featuring comedy films and series called Showtime Comedy Television; and an all-movie channel called Showtime Film Festival.[36] This planned extension to the multiplex did not come to fruition – although a third multiplex service, Showtime 3, would make its debut in 1996.[37]

The multiplex would eventually expand over time with the launch of the action film channel Showtime Extreme on March 10, 1998, followed by the debut of the science fiction channel Showtime Beyond in September 1999; the Showtime Unlimited name for the Showtime multiplex, TMC and Flix came into use around this time.[35] Three additional themed channels made their debut in March 2001: Showtime Family Zone (which carries films intended for family audiences), Showtime Next (a channel featuring films and series that appeal toward adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years old) and Showtime Women (a channel featuring films and Showtime original programs that appeal toward a female audience).[34][35] The programming format of Showtime 3 was overhauled five months later on July 1, 2001 to focus on theatrical movie releases and Showtime's original made-for-cable films, that under the new name Showcase.

Showtime Family Zone, Showtime Next and Showtime Women do not have distribution by most pay television providers as extensive as the other Showtime multiplex channels. The availability of either of the three channels on cable providers varies depending on the market; Dish Network carries neither of the three, and DirecTV carries Showtime Next and Showtime Women, but not Showtime Family Zone.

Other services

Showtime HD

Showtime HD is a high definition simulcast feed of Showtime that broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format. In addition to its main channel, Showtime also operates high definition simulcast feeds of six of its seven multiplex channels (Showtime Family Zone remains the only Showtime multiplex channel that continues to broadcast exclusively in standard definition), although few providers offer any of the multiplex channels in HD and most mainly carry just the high definition feed of the primary Showtime channel. Showtime HD is currently available nationally through satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network; and regionally by Time Warner Cable, Comcast Xfinity, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, among other providers. Films shown on Showtime's HD simulcast feeds are broadcast in their native aspect ratio if that version is provided by the studios that maintain pay television distribution rights with the channel.[38]

Showtime on Demand

Showtime operates a subscription video-on-demand television service called Showtime on Demand, which is available at no additional charge to Showtime subscribers. Showtime on Demand offers feature films, episodes of Showtime's original series, adult programming and sports events. Showtime on Demand's rotating program selection incorporates select new titles that are added each Friday, alongside existing program titles held over from the previous one to two weeks. The service began to be test marketed in 2001 and was officially launched in July 2002.[39]

Showtime Anytime

On October 27, 2010, Showtime launched Showtime Anytime, a website that features around 400 hours of streaming program content available in standard or high definition that is accessible to subscribers of the Showtime television service. Content available on the service includes Showtime original programming, feature films, comedy specials, documentaries and sports programming.[40] It is currently available nationally to Showtime subscribers of satellite provider AT&T DirecTV, and regionally by Comcast Xfinity; Time Warner Cable; Charter Communications; Cablevision; Bright House Networks; Cox Communications; CenturyLink Prism; Grande Communications; Mediacom;[41] AT&T U-verse;[42] and Verizon FIOS.[43] The Showtime Anytime app (which is offered as a free download) was initially released on the iOS App Store for the iPad and iPhone on October 3, 2011.[44] On October 1, 2012, an Android app became available through the Google Play platform for Android devices.[45]

Showtime (streaming service)

On June 3, 2015, Showtime parent CBS Corporation announced that it would launch an over-the-top subscription video on demand service that would be distributed as a standalone offering without the requirement of having an existing television subscription to use (in the manner of competitor HBO's OTT offering, HBO Now).[46][47] The service, which uses the same branding as the linear television channel, was officially launched on July 7, 2015 (coinciding with the season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex on July 12).[48][49][50][51] The service was initially available for purchase through Apple Inc. (to Apple TV and iOS devices), Hulu, Roku, PlayStation Vue and Amazon Prime as well as through Showtime's website ([52][53][54][55]

Available for $10.99 per month (or $8.99 per month through Amazon Prime and Hulu as add-on subscriptions), the Showtime streaming service is identical to Showtime Anytime; it offers a back catalog of episodes of various past and present Showtime original series (with new episodes of Showtime original series being made available for streaming the same day as their original broadcast on the main linear Showtime channel), feature films and documentaries, and sports events and analysis programs. Unlike HBO Now, it also provides live streams of the East and West Coast television feeds of the linear Showtime channel (live streams of Showtime's multiplex services, and sister networks The Movie Channel, The Movie Channel Xtra, and Flix are not currently available on the service; live streams of Showtime's multiplex channels are available for Amazon Prime users as part of the Showtime add-on subscription [56]).[57][58]

SHO Sync

On September 22, 2011, Showtime launched Showtime Social, a second screen interactive app providing interactivity with Showtime programs including viewer-participant polls and trivia questions as well as real-time aggregation of Twitter, Facebook and blog comments about particular Showtime programs; the app utilizes Automated Content Recognition technology to generate interactive content regardless of whether it is being watched live, on-demand or by DVR; the app also displays heat maps depicting viewer reactions throughout the duration of an episode at the conclusion of the program. The app – which was renamed SHO Sync on September 13, 2012 – was originally released for Apple iOS devices (iPad and iPhone), with an app for LG-manufactured Smart TVs being released on August 15, 2013.[59][60][61][62]

On July 9, 2015, Showtime announced it would discontinue SHO Sync, immediately discontinuing support of the iPad app with the iPhone and LG apps to be discontinued at a later date. However, the channel hinted that the core interactive functions of SHO Sync may be restored in a different form, with the possibility of being incorporated into Showtime Anytime and the Showtime over-the-top streaming service.[63]


Since the early 1980s, Showtime has run an adult-oriented late night programming block on its main channel called "Showtime After Hours" (which was briefly branded as "Showtime Late Night" during the mid-1990s) each night after 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time; 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, and a weekday mid-afternoon and Sunday morning film block called "Showtime Familytime" that ran during the 1980s and 1990s.

Softcore erotica programming has previously aired during the "After Hours" 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.

Original programming

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 and has since been renamed Pop) starting with the June 26, 2013 premiere of Big Brother's 15th season.[64]

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.

Movie library

As of April 2015, Showtime – and sister channels The Movie Channel and Flix – maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network sister company CBS Films (since 2007),[65] The Weinstein Company (since 2009, including releases by Dimension Films; Netflix will assume the rights to The Weinstein Company's films starting in 2016;[66][67] ironically, TWC owns 25% of rival premium channel Starz), DreamWorks (featuring only live-action releases through Touchstone Pictures, as part of a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures),[68] IFC Films,[69] Miramax Films (including films released by Dimension Films), WWE Films, Magnolia Pictures, First Look Studios, and Anchor Bay Entertainment (owned by Starz).

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, Summit Entertainment, Universal Studios (including content from subsidiary Focus Features), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (including content from subsidiaries United Artists, Orion Pictures, Relativity Media (after Netflix's pay television window for its individual releases concludes), 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 2015 – Showtime does run independent films to which that studio owns the home video rights, regardless as to whether they were 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, Starz/Encore, and Epix. 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 agreements

On October 1, 2013, Showtime Networks 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.[70][71]

On January 20, 2015, Showtime announced that it entered into a multi-year premium television output deal with film, television and multimedia studio STX Entertainment. The deal encompasses all films distributed theatrically by the studio through 2019, which will be shown exclusively on Showtime Networks and its multiplex channels.[72]

Former first-run contracts

Within years of its launch, Showtime entered into licensing agreements with several movie studios. Following Viacom's 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 agreement with Showtime and The Movie Channel to carry the studio's films through 1989.[73] On July 15, 1987, HBO signed a five-year deal with Paramount Pictures to broadcast 85 of their films released from May 1988 onward;[74][75] in May 1989, after it signed a licensing deal with HBO, Paramount filed a lawsuit against Showtime Networks, Viacom and its parent National Amusements over Showtime's alleged refusal to pay a total of $88 million in fees for five films (that underperformed in their theatrical release) to reduce the minimum liability for its 75-film package from the studio.[73] 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.[76]

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.[77] Rival pay channel Starz signed a deal with Disney in 1994,[78] carrying only Touchstone and Hollywood films released from January 1997 onward early on.[79] By 1989, the channel had already made exclusive deals with Carolco Pictures (signed in 1988),[80] Atlantic Entertainment Group,[81] Cannon Films[82] (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.[83][84] On November 22, 1993, Showtime signed exclusive first-run premium cable rights with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (renewing an existing pact with the studio) and United Artists,[85] which were renewed for nine additional years in 2000.[86][87] On March 5, 1996, Showtime announced a seven-year output deal with Phoenix Pictures (as part of an agreement that also included the purchase of an 11% equity interest), broadcasting titles from that studio released between 1996 and 2002.[88] During that time, Showtime also maintained output deals with TriStar Pictures (between 1994 and 1999),[89] Castle Rock Entertainment (which expired after 1999), PolyGram (which expired after 2001), and Artisan Pictures.[90][91]

On December 4, 2008, Showtime signed a four-year exclusive first-run distribution deal with Summit Entertainment, broadcasting 42 films that were released by that studio between 2009 and 2012.[92] 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.[93]

Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM

The future of Showtime was put into question after negotiations to renew film output deals with Paramount Pictures (which was separated from the channel 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.[94] 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.[95][96]

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.

Sports programming

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.[97]

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.[98]

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, mixed martial arts promotion 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;[99] Strikeforce ended its run on Showtime when the league folded in January 2013.[100] In addition to broadcasting big-ticket Strikeforce events on Showtime, the promotion also announced it would produce ShoMMA: Strikeforce Challengers, an event series highlighting up-and-coming fighters.[101]

In 2010, Showtime debuted another original sports insider program, Inside NASCAR, focusing on interviews and analysis from around the NASCAR circuit. In 2011, Showtime expanded its MMA programming by televising events produced by M-1 Global,[102] 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.[103]

Showtime also airs an hour-long program called Jim Rome on Showtime, featuring the controversial sportscaster Jim Rome conducting interviews with well-known sports personalities.


Main article: Showtime (brand)

Outside of the United States, several pay television networks utilize the Showtime name and former logo through licensing agreements with Showtime Networks, such as Showtime Australia, Showtime Arabia, Showtime Scandinavia and Spain's Showtime Extreme. Showtime launched a South African version as part of the new TopTV satellite provider's package on May 1, 2010.[104] Chinese streamer PPTV agreed to a multiyear license to stream CBS and Showtime series in the country. The agreement gives 400 million users access to select Showtime series from CBS.[105]


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