Creator / Showtime

A pay channel in the model of HBO, Showtime debuted on the market in 1976. Originally based in California, the network expanded to national markets two years later. Its original owner was the first incarnation of Viacom, which is now known as CBS Corporation, and has the Smithsonian Channel as a sister network as part of a unique deal with that institution for rights to programming involving Smithsonian exhibits and properties (You can blame this for why you see programs like Ice Road Truckers on The History Channel).

Showtime lags behind its rivals, HBO/Cinemax and Starz/Encore, primarily due to the other networks' stronger movie offerings. It may have lost the film libraries of its largest providers, Paramount Pictures (which was its corporate cousin from 1994 to 2005), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate, to their own Epix in 2009 (let alone The Brady Bunch Movie which aired on Freeform a few years later), but it hasn't been hurt by this at all. Besides that, Showtime does hold the rights to the Twilight film franchise, which they air plenty of times. However, with the acquisition of Starz by Lionsgate and MGM taking full control of Epix, not to mention the swirling rumors of a re-merger between Viacom and CBS, it seems likely that Paramount films will return to Showtime at some point in the future.

When it comes to original programming, Showtime's offerings generally rival those of HBO—especially with its big drama series, such as the critically acclaimed Weeds (which is also Adored by the Network), and Dexter, United States of Tara and Homeland. Back in The '90s, Showtime was known more for genre shows (with a reliance on Recycled: The Series), with Stargate SG-1, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and a revival of The Outer Limits in 1995 all getting their start on the network.

Back in The '80s one of its earliest original series was Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, a low budget but well-acted and written series that re-told classic fairy tales with all star casts, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The series was so popular that it became one of the earliest series to get released on home video. A Spiritual Successor called Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories also ran for three years in the 90's. Another notable early original series was Brothers, one of the first shows to address gay issues, which is also notable for the novelty of Yeardley Smith, best known for her role as Lisa Simpson, in a live-action setting, and for being hard to find.

Being a premium network, it has more lenient standards when it comes to profanity and nudity (this is after all where David Duchovny got his start as the "host" of Red Shoe Diaries); something which has been lampshaded over the years.

Shows featured on Showtime have included: