|Launched||July 1, 1976|
|Owned by||Showtime Networks, Inc. (CBS Corporation)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Slogan||TV. At its Best.|
|Headquarters||New York, New York|
|Sister channel(s)||The Movie Channel
|DirecTV||537 Showtime (east)
538 Showtime 2
540 Showtime (west)
542 Showtime Extreme
1537 On Demand
|Dish Network||318 Showtime (east)
319 Showtime (west)
320 Showtime 2
322 Showtime Extreme
323 Showtime Beyond
|Available on most cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FiOs||See List of Verizon FiOS channels|
|AT&T U-verse||See AT&T U-verse channel lineup|
Showtime is a premium 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. As of August 2005, Showtime's programming is available to around 13 million subscribers in the United States.
Showtime, originally a service of Viacom, went on the air on July 1, 1976, first shown on a local cable system in Dublin, California. Its first program was Celebration, a concert special featuring Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd and ABBA.
On March 7, 1978, Showtime expanded to the national market via satellite, competing with HBO and other pay cable networks.
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/The Movie Channel, Inc. (later 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's share of Showtime/TMC, making them the sole owner of Showtime once again.
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, 12:01 PM, was nominated for an Academy Award. In the years that followed, Showtime expanded its acquisitions into the realm of feature-length fare, including the 1997 remake of Lolita, directed by Adrian Lyne.
In the early 2000s, Showtime launched several additional multiplex channels including Showtime Too (a pun on its current 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. 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.
In 2005, Showtime became a subsidiary of the newly renamed CBS Corporation, after the CBS/Viacom split of that year.
Showtime operates eight multiplex channels and a video on demand service (Showtime On Demand): Showtime also packages the Eastern and Pacific feeds of the main channel and its multiplex services together, giving viewers a second chance to watch the same movie/program three hours earlier or later — depending on their geographic location. However, certain cable systems only offer the main channel in this manner.
Note: the abbreviation in parenthesis is used as an on-screen identifier and in programming guides
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 transferred in 2009 to a new premium channel initiated in part by Viacom. Showtime has also agreements with 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.
The future of the channel was put into question when it was announced that three of its major suppliers of films Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lions Gate Entertainment, as well as their respected subsidiaries (Paramount Vantage and United Artists), would be teaming up together to form a new premium movie channel. Called Epix, it launched in May 2009 as a broadband Internet service, and arrived later that year on television.  This is primary due to the company split-up of parent company Viacom into two separate entities, Viacom and CBS Corporation, the latter owning Showtime (though both companies are still controlled by National Amusements). Paramount's 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 Lions Gate's contracts expired at the end of 2008. .
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 Inglourious Basterds. The deal also includes films from the studio's subsidiary Dimension Films.
Showtime has begun airing direct-to-video movies from Anchor Bay Entertainment, such as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and Hatchet. Ironically, Anchor Bay is owned by Showtime's rival, Starz. On December 4, 2008, Showtime entered into an exclusive 4-year output deal with Summit Entertainment to air 42 of their films during their initial premium cable run. The deal includes all the films in the Twilight franchise, as well as the films Push, Knowing with Nicolas Cage, and the horror remake Sorority Row.
As of 2010, Showtime holds first-run premium cable rights to Summit Entertainment, The Weinstein Company (also including rights to Dimension Films releases), First Look Pictures, IFC Films (rights are shared with Starz), ThinkFilm and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Showtime holds sub-run rights to films from MGM, United Artists, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures and some movies from the early and mid 1990's by Miramax Films and Warner Bros. (usually ones that are, at least, 13 years old from their initial theatrical exhibition).
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.
On March 12, 2010, Showtime came to an agreement with The Walt Disney Company, which had recently purchased the distribution rights to DreamWorks Pictures, to air at least 35 movies from the latter studio between 2009 and 2015 during their premium-cable run . This deal also allows Showtime first-choice to renew their contract when the initial tenure lapses. The deal does not include films from the animated branch of DreamWorks.
Usually films to which Showtime has pay-cable rights will also run on The Movie Channel and Flix during its time of license.
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.