Showtime and Smithsonian To Launch VOD

Films, docs, short-form shows are on the slate

By Anne Becker

Showtime and the Smithsonian Institution plan to launch a video-on-demand TV channel with some 60 programs this spring. The co-venture, Smithsonian Networks, has acquired various films and is developing a programming slate of documentaries and short-form VOD programs with partners including the BBC.

Plans for the channel initially caused a flap with some members of Congress, as well as with PBS, the American Historical Association and others, who voiced concern that Showtime would have exclusive access to some content from the vast D.C. museum. That museum content could be licensed exclusively to anyone other than the public was a violation of public trust, they said. In December, the Government Accountability Office issued a report finding no fault in the deal.

Programming scheduled for the channel at launch includes Timewatch, a history series co-produced with the BBC; Stories From the Vaults, a half-hour series in which host Tom Cavanagh (Ed) goes behind the scenes in the museum's vaults; The Hunt for the Double Eagle, a movie about the world's most valuable coin, two of which are in the museum; and Nature Tech, a three-part series about cutting-edge science.