When the curtain goes up on this cable broadcaster, it's really Showtime. Showtime Networks operates a portfolio of leading pay-TV channels including its flagship Showtime service, which offers movies, special events, and original series such as Dexter and Homeland. It also offers on-demand programming, and owns sister pay-TV services The Movie Channel (recently-released movies) and FLIX (movies from the past several decades). Altogether Showtime, The Movie Channel, and FLIX boast more than 67 million cable and satellite subscribers. Showtime Networks also owns a joint venture with the Smithsonian that operates the Smithsonian Channel. Part of media giant CBS Corp., Showtime first went on the air in 1976.
The pay-TV network has been clawing its way out from under the shadow of rival HBO thanks to its edgy and buzz-worthy original series such as Weeds, Nurse Jackie, and Californication. And in 2010, Showtime Networks launched Showtime Anytime, a video-streaming version of Showtime for Showtime subscribers. In other digital efforts, the network also operates SHO.com and mobile apps that promote Showtime, The Movie Channel, and FLIX programming, and provide information and entertainment and other services.
While Showtime increasingly relies on original series programming for ratings, the network continues to air mostly movies. The network has an agreement with The Weinstein Company for the rights to exclusively air that firm's feature films released through 2015. It has a similar arrangement with Summit Entertainment for films made through 2012. Showtime also has agreements with Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate.
Cable giant Viacom originally created Showtime for a Northern California cable system; the network went national via satellite in 1978.
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