Premium network Showtime is headed to the Great White North.
Under a new a long-term content licensing and trademark agreement between network parent CBS Corp. and Canada's Bell Media, the pay TV service's brand will appear over blocks of content available outside the United States.
The agreement is an expansion for Showtime programming in Canada, building on a previous CBS/Bell Media agreement that licensed current Showtime series on pay TV in the country. Over the course of the new agreement, Bell Media platforms CraveTV, a streaming service, and The Movie Network will become the exclusive sources of Showtime-owned first-run programming as well as most its catalog of scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and specials.
For Showtime, the deal underscores the success it has had building a premium brand in the United States, including a sequence of hit shows under Showtime Networks Inc. president David Nevins. That has made Showtime more of a year-round destination than a place viewers would turn to when Dexter or Weeds were making their runs.
Showtime also owns outright nine of its series and has an ownership interest in two more. That gives the premium cabler a clear path to licensing rights and sales internationally, as well as to streaming partners domestically. In the current crop of shows are such names as two-time Golden Globe Best Drama winner Homeland and this year's winner in that category, The Affair.
Bell Media president Kevin Crull said in a release: “Showtime has clearly become one of TV’s preeminent brands, and its slate of world-class and award-winning scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and specials guarantee our subscribers more of the premium TV they want on the platform of their choice.”
Under the Bell Media agreement, streaming service CraveTV will launch a "Showtime Collection" featuring the network's series, specials and documentaries, including at launch the immediate past seasons of current hits The Affair, Ray Donovan and Penny Dreadful, as well as originals Masters of Sex, Nurse Jackie, Weeds and more. All total, CraveTV will have rights to about 600 assets, the network said.
Additionally, a Showtime-branded programming block will launch later this year on Bell's TMN, a pay TV network. The programming will be available in English and French.
“This is a great moment in the history of Showtime, when for the first time our award-winning programming will be distributed and aggressively marketed as one brand beyond the United States,” Nevins said in the release. “This ground-breaking new deal was driven by the depth and breadth of our critically acclaimed original series. Bell Media, with their incredible range of platforms, is uniquely positioned to present Showtime to Canadian audiences in whatever form they choose to watch us.”
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