The Movie Channel
- This article is about the sister premium channel of Showtime. For the unrelated, defunct television channel in the United Kingdom, see The Movie Channel (UK). Not to be confused with the Canadian premium television service The Movie Network.
|The Movie Channel|
(original launch, as Star Channel)
December 1, 1979
(relaunch, as The Movie Channel)
|Owned by||Showtime Networks, Inc.
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Slogan||Movies for Movie Lovers|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York|
|Formerly called||Star Channel (1973-1979)|
|Sister channel(s)||Showtime, Flix,
(redirects to www.sho.com/tmc)
|DirecTV||The Movie Channel:
554 (east; HD/SD)
555 (west; SD)
TMC Xtra: 556 (HD)
TMC On Demand: 1554
|Dish Network||The Movie Channel:
327 (east; HD/SD)
329 (west; SD)
The Movie Channel Xtra:
328 (east; SD)
330 (west; SD)
|Available on most cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FIOS||The Movie Channel:
East: 385 (SD), 885 (HD)
West: 386 (SD)
The Movie Channel Xtra:
East: 387 (SD), 887 (HD)
West: 388 (SD)
|AT&T U-verse||The Movie Channel:
East: 882 (SD), 1882 (HD)
West: 884 (SD), 1884 (HD)
The Movie Channel Xtra:
East: 883 (SD), 1883 (HD)
West: 885 (SD), 1885 (HD)
The Movie Channel is an American premium cable and satellite television network that is owned by the CBS Corporation subsidiary Showtime Networks, Inc. Its programming features mainly first-run theatrically released and independently produced motion pictures, along with softcore adult erotica, special behind-the-scenes features and movie trivia. The channel's name is occasionally abbreviated as "TMC", which remains a common informal name and is therefore intermittently used below for brevity.
Early history (1973–1979) 
The Movie Channel's history traces back to 1973, when Gridtronics launched Star Channel, a pay movie service that delivered videotaped movies to cable systems around the country. Cable provides sometimes experienced technical problems trying to broadcast the delivered tapes to viewers, especially when the tapes jammed during playback. It was acquired by Warner Communications later in the decade, and was eventually brought into the company's joint venture with American Express, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment. Star Channel was initially offered on systems operated by Warner Cable Communications, and later on Warner-Amex's experimental QUBE interactive service.
National expansion as The Movie Channel and transfer to Viacom (1979–2005) 
In January 1979, Star Channel became a national service after it was uplinked to satellite, eventually sharing channel space with Nickelodeon. On December 1, 1979, the network was relaunched as The Movie Channel, with the 1953 comedy Roman Holiday as the first feature film to be broadcast. Following its launch, TMC was the first premium channel to show R-rated films during the day (sister network Showtime currently also airs R-rated films during the day, as do Cinemax, Epix, Encore and Starz; HBO does not air any R-rated films on its primary channel until after 8 p.m. ET/PT). In 1981, The Movie Channel also became one of the first television channels to broadcast movies in stereo. As the standard for television broadcasts in stereo was a few years away, cable operators simulcast the stereo as an FM radio signal.
In 1983, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment merged The Movie Channel with Viacom-owned Showtime to form Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. (which was later renamed Showtime Networks, Inc. in 1988). In 1985, Viacom acquired Warner-Amex's ownership stake in Showtime and The Movie Channel, making Viacom the sole owner of both networks. Ironically, Warner Communications would acquire rivals HBO and Cinemax a few years later, when the company merged with Time Inc.
From 1988 to 1997, The Movie Channel featured trailers for feature films to be released theatrically during promo breaks in-between films, it also produced a 15-second daily entertainment news interstitial focusing on the film industry called The Movie Channel News. In August 1993, The Movie Channel began limiting breaks between films to a length of five minutes or less, this followed an on-air test of the strategy during February and March of that year that saw an increase in audience retention for other films with the strategy; TMC abandoned the break limits in 1997.
Prior to the advent of digital cable, The Movie Channel was often sold separately from Showtime depending on the provider. Showtime began offering all of its channels, including TMC, Flix and Sundance Channel (now owned by AMC Networks), in a single package by the early 2000s; this resulting in most providers (with the exception of Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network) ceasing to sell or promote The Movie Channel separately from Showtime (both Dish Network and DirecTV sell TMC's main channel and The Movie Channel Xtra, either with the other Showtime channels or as part of a separate movie tier).
Although TMC was carried by most cable providers, there were some systems that did not have agreements to carry the channel, even if a provider already carried Showtime; for example, now-defunct satellite provider Primestar never carried TMC, although it announced plans to add the channel in January 1999, but Primestar's assets were sold to Hughes Communications (then-owners of DirecTV) shortly thereafter. In May 1994, Tele-Communications Inc. dropped TMC from more than 30 of the cable provider's service areas; this resulted during an antitrust lawsuit filed by Viacom against TCI in which the provider was accused of a "conspiracy to eliminate" Showtime and its sister channels, including TMC. Viacom accused TCI of using the issue of a carriage contract that expired in January 1993, into pressuring Viacom to settle its lawsuit, Viacom reportedly stated that TCI threatened to hurt both Showtime and The Movie Channel unless Viacom agreed to purchase an ownership stake in Encore, which Viacom claimed to have been first conceived by them four years earlier during failed negotiations that would have had TCI purchase 50% of Showtime Networks. The local TCI systems said that the decision to remove The Movie Channel from their channel lineups were made at the local level and not a company-wide decision.
In 1997, TMC underwent an extensive rebranding effort that resulted in the channel briefly premiering its own original movies (which were produced through Showtime), along with the addition of daily movie marathons set around a specific theme and a companion block known as the Double Vision Weekend, a monthly weekend-long marathon of movies. In addition, TMC also started running movie and celebrity trivia segments during breaks between films (originally known as TMC Fun Facts and later TMC Reel Stuff), along with inserting trivia during promos for movies that were scheduled to air on the channel. In October of that year, The Movie Channel launched The Movie Channel 2 as its sole multiplex service (later renamed The Movie Channel Xtra in 2001).
In 2001, The Movie Channel began premiering movies that never were released theatrically, on home video or on DVD. It also began airing softcore pornographic films during the late night hours. The channel also produced a series of two-minute sketches called The Pitch, featuring character actor Sean Smith as a movie executive who listens as people pitch him ideas for films (generally well-known existing feature films such as Cliffhanger or The Terminator).
Under CBS Corporation ownership (2005–present) 
On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate itself into two companies (only six years after Viacom's acquisition of CBS), both of which would be controlled by Viacom parent National Amusements, amid stagnation of the company's stock price. The original Viacom was renamed CBS Corporation and acquired Showtime Networks along with CBS' broadcasting assets, Paramount Television (now the separate arms CBS Television Studios for network and cable production and CBS Television Distribution for production of first-run syndicated programs and off-network series distribution), advertising firm Viacom Outdoor (renamed CBS Outdoor), Simon & Schuster and Paramount Parks, which was later sold; the new Viacom kept Paramount Pictures, the MTV Networks and BET Networks cable divisions, and Famous Music (the latter was sold off in 2007).
On May 3, 2006, The Movie Channel adopted a new on-air look including a new logo and slogan (Movies For Movie Lovers). Bumpers that introduced films were dropped entirely (instead starting the film with a ratings bumper). The channel's website – which only featured a programming schedule for the next month – was also revamped with special features added including an online store, a video player and previews of films set to air on the channel (TMC still features movie trivia interstitials between films on the linear channels and on its video-on-demand service, though it directs viewers to the channel's website for answers to the trivia questions).
List of channels 
Depending on the service provider, The Movie Channel provides up to four multiplex channels – two 24-hour multiplex channels, both of which are simulcast in both standard definition and high definition – as well as a subscription video-on-demand service (The Movie Channel On Demand). The Movie Channel broadcasts its primary channel and multiplex service The Movie Channel Xtra on both Eastern and Pacific Time Zone schedules. The respective coastal feeds of each channel are usually packaged together (though most cable providers only offer the east and west coast feeds of TMC's main channel), resulting in the difference in local airtimes for a particular movie or program between two geographic locations being three hours at most.
Showtime and Flix, which are also owned by CBS Corporation, operate as separate services – and subscribers to The Movie Channel do not necessarily have to subscribe to the other two services (Dish Network and DirecTV alternately offer both TMC channels to subscribers that do not already have Showtime; both The Movie Channel and Encore are the only U.S. premium channels to be offered to subscribers that do not subscribe to their co-owned premium services). However, The Movie Channel is frequently sold together in a package with Showtime.
- The Movie Channel: The "flagship" channel; TMC carries blockbuster and smaller first-run films, independent films and late-night erotica. The channel broadcasts a featured movie around 8 p.m. ET each night and has one regularly-scheduled movie block: the weekly horror movie double feature "Splatterday on Saturday" on Saturday evenings at 10 p.m. ET.
- The Movie Channel Xtra: A secondary channel providing more movie choice for viewers, counterprogrammed with The Movie Channel. TMC Xtra features a nightly feature movie around 9 p.m. ET, and rebroadcasts TMC's "Splatterday" block from the previous week on Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET. Launched in October 1997, this channel was formerly known as The Movie Channel 2 until March 2001.
Related services 
The Movie Channel HD 
The Movie Channel provides high definition simulcast feeds of both its primary channel and The Movie Channel Xtra that broadcast a moderate-to-large schedule of programming in 1080i resolution. The Movie Channel HD is carried by most of the major American television providers: including Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Xfinity by Comcast, Cablevision, AT&T U-verse, DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS.
The Movie Channel On Demand 
The Movie Channel operates a subscription video-on-demand television service called The Movie Channel on Demand, which is available at no additional charge to new and existing subscribers of The Movie Channel. The service launched on December 1, 2003, with a subscriber base of two million homes. The Movie Channel On Demand offers program content available in standard or high definition based on the following genres: action and adventure films, dramas, comedies and softcore pornographic films. It also offers special feature content consisting of film trivia and behind-the-scenes features including interviews.
Movie library 
As of February 2013, The Movie Channel – through Showtime – has exclusive first-run movie rights with network sister company CBS Films since 2007, The Weinstein Company since 2009 (including Dimension Films), DreamWorks (through Touchstone Pictures, as part of a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group), IFC Films, Miramax Films (includes films released by Dimension Films), Summit Entertainment (for films released prior to 2013), Magnolia Pictures, First Look Studios, THINKFilm and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
The Movie Channel also shows sub-runs – runs of films that have already received broadcast or syndicated television airings – of theatrical films from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (including content from subsidiaries Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and formerly co-owned Miramax Films), Samuel Goldwyn Films, Universal Studios (including content from subsidiary Focus Features), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (including content from subsidiaries United Artists, Orion Pictures, and The Samuel Goldwyn Company), Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment (sub-run rights with the latter three studios are for films released prior to 2008). Though not holding pay television rights to show recent films from 20th Century Fox – which are held by HBO, as of 2013[update] – The Movie Channel does run independent films to which that studio owns the home video rights, regardless as to if they were not released theatrically. In 2006, Showtime Networks entered into a partial deal with Rogue Pictures to broadcast select films released by the studio (especially those originally produced for home video release).
Many lesser-known film titles (particularly those released as independent films) that have either not received a theatrical release or were released on DVD or home video are also commonly broadcast on TMC. The window between a film's initial release in theaters and its initial screening on Showtime, The Movie Channel and Flix is wider than the grace period leading to a film's initial broadcast on HBO, Cinemax or Starz. Films that Showtime has pay cable rights to will usually also run on The Movie Channel and sister channel Flix during the period of its term of licensing.
Programming blocks 
- Splatterday: In 2006, The Movie Channel introduced a weekly block called Splatterday on Saturday (also known as simply "Splatterday"). The block, which airs on Saturday nights starting at 10:00 p.m. ET, is a double feature of horror movies (however until late 2008, the now-defunct Showtime series Masters of Horror aired within the block, as the only television series to ever air on The Movie Channel). Both films airing in that week's initial late evening block are rebroadcast on TMC's primary channel following the conclusion of the second film, the entire block is also rebroadcast on The Movie Channel Xtra the following Friday evening – the night prior to that week's block on The Movie Channel – also at 10:00 p.m. ET.
- Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater: Featuring cult films and B movies, this block was hosted by Joe Bob Briggs (the pseudonym of actor and film critic John Irving Bloom), who was known for wearing cowboy attire and a ten-gallon hat. Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater aired Saturday nights on TMC from 1986 to 1996, though the Drive-In Theater presentation on the channel dated back to 1984, when it debuted without a regular host. Among the many recurring gags featured in the wraparound segments seen prior to and following the films within the block include Briggs' unique way of introducing movies (including referencing exactly how much violence and nudity was included in each movie) and his signoff "this is Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die". Bloom's work as the Joe Bob character also extended as host of The Movie Channel's Moonlight Madness block during the second half of the 1980s. Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater ended its ten-year run on TMC on February 24, 1996, with Bloom reprising the Joe Bob Briggs character as host of TNT's MonsterVision horror film block from 1997 to 2000.
- TMC Top Attraction: This block ran from 1988 to 1991, with a featured movie title being broadcast each Friday night at 11 p.m. ET, with encore rebroadcasts airing two hours earlier from the prior primetime telecast on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
- The Movie Channel Challenge: This block ran from 1990 to 1997, in which The Movie Channel ran approximately 400 movies during the course of one month without any repeat broadcasts. This was intended to set TMC apart from the scheduling format of most premium channels (including The Movie Channel itself) that typically feature repeat airings of most films several times during the calendar month. Movies starring a particular actor or focusing on a certain film genre would be aired during at various points during The Movie Channel Challenge period.
- Salute to the Academy Awards: The Movie Channel aired the "Salute to the Academy Awards" (a month-long block similar to Turner Classic Movies' present-day 31 Days of Oscar) from 1984 to 1997, running during the month proceeding the Academy Awards. It featured movies that have won or been nominated for Oscars in various film and acting categories, with one Oscar winning or nominated film airing each evening.
- VCR Theater/Overnite / TMC Overnight: The channel launched a weekly feature called "The Movie Channel's VCR Theater" in the spring of 1986, airing early Wednesday mornings at 3:00 a.m. ET. The block was created due to the rise in consumer ownership of VCRs (particularly among the channel's subscriber base) during the 1980s. Films featured in the block were movies the channel believed were worth recording for their subscribers to watch at a time of their choosing. This block was renamed in 1988 as "VCR Overnight" and again in 1997 as "TMC Overnight", until it was discontinued in 2004.
- Daily marathons: Following a major on-air rebrand of TMC in 1997, the channel started airing movie marathons seven days a week, featuring three (or sometimes four) films that were tied to a specific subject (such as "Ouch" for crime dramas) or actor (such as "Omar Goodness" for movies starring Omar Epps).
- TMC Double Vision Weekends: In conjunction to the daily marathons, The Movie Channel ran "Double Vision Weekends" on a bi-monthly basis. These three-day long blocks featured three different movies starring a particular actor or actress with a different marathon block being shown following the previous block's conclusion. The "Double Vision Weekend" lineup typically lasted for longer than one of the network's typical movie marathons (the daily marathon lineups ran during the afternoon and/or evening hours). The "Double Vision Weekends" blocks were discontinued in 2006, along with the daily film marathons.
Over the years, TMC has used a myriad of unusual and sometimes bizarre logos and promotions. The channel's launch logo featured strips of film made to resemble a star with folded sides and another star inside it, indirectly referencing its previous identity as Star Channel. In 1981, the text for the network's changed to an all-uppercase font (with a slightly enlarged letter "M") that surrounded the left and bottom side of the star. From 1983 to 1985, the network alternately used a script logo, sometimes more often than its "star" logo. In the late 1980s, TMC began airing somewhat clever graphics for their time such as a "tour of Hollywood" movie open which closed with a shot of Hollywood with a faintly visible heart in the middle of the sky.
In May 1988, The Movie Channel debuted a rectangular "eye and profile" logo, which utilized various designs, with the network's name in Helvetica Extended typeface on tilted black lines at the top and bottom of the logo; many viewers have referenced on online blogs and video websites such as YouTube that this logo, due to the eyes being prominently displayed, had frightened them as young children (this logo was replicated somewhat when WGN America used a logo featuring a set of female eyes rimmed with green mascara from 2008 to 2009). The channel ran different computer-animated 10 second feature presentation opens and network IDs (among which included the logo changing facial expressions at the open of a curtain set to a bouncy keyboard tune, the logo profile with a gray face turning to face the screen – which then winked – in front of a gray background accompanied by a steady drumbeat and a movie open bumper set in a living room to Indiana Jones-style adventure music that begins with a match being struck as the eyes of the logo – which is printed on a newspaper – shoots lasers and escapes to reach a TV set as the viewer sees its escape from the logo's point of view and the calamities that befall it on the way).
TMC adopted a very slick on-air look that predominantly used CGI graphics, with the debut of a new logo in 1997, a 3D computer-animated green ball with a tilted and lowercase "TMC" emblazened on it, usually shown either to the right of the channel's full name or above the name (also rendered in lowercase type). Jeff Bottoms (who has served as The Movie Channel's promo announcer since that point) promoted upcoming programs between films with bold, brash and entertaining voiceovers. During the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), The Movie Channel started running a wide variety of network promotions from those akin to a movie trailer to typical promos that feature behind-the-scenes trivia relating to the film. The latter technique is still used by the channel today, often in a more hybrid way.
An extensively modified logo was introduced in 2001, featuring a one-dimensional circle with a lowercase "tmc" in Knockout type on it, surrounded with two lines on the corners framing the circle; the "movie" in the channel's name was rendered in bold as well. The Movie Channel's current logo was introduced in 2006, featuring three colored crescent-like sections in a circle framing the channel's name, rendered in the same Helvetica typeface variant used in the 1988-1997 logo. On April 1, 2010, The Movie Channel and The Movie Channel Xtra began displaying digital on-screen graphic logos of the respective channels during its programming; the bug seen is an alternate version of the channel's logo with each segment of the channel's name stacked on top of each other.
Network slogans 
- 1979–1985: "We're Taking Movies to America, 24 Hours a Day"
- 1979–1988: "All Movies, 24 Hours a Day" (used as alternate slogan from 1985–1988)
- 1984–1988: "The Heart of Hollywood"
- 1988–1997: "A Movie Anytime You Want One"
- 1997–2001: "100% Pure Movies, 100% Pure Fun"
- 2001–2006: "The Stuff Movies Are Made Of"
- 2006–present: "Movies for Movie Lovers"
- Trademark: Star Channel
- 'No-ads' plan eroding? (promotions for current movies on pay movie cable services, HighBeam (via Cable Television Business), Retrieved 2-9-2011.
- The Movie Channel tightens up gaps, Multichannel News, June 7, 1993, Retrieved March 9, 2013 from HighBeam Research.
- PRIMESTAR Launches Four New Channels
- Mitchell, Kim. "Encore snares Disney films from Showtime", Multichannel News, October 4, 1993. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Katz, Richard. "TCI drops TMC on 30 systems.", Multichannel News, May 2, 1994. Retrieved February 23, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- McConville, Jim. "TMC gets original fare; in branding move, greater distinction to be drawn between TMC and co-owned Showtime", Broadcasting & Cable, November 4, 1996. Retrieved February 25, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Moss, Linda. "Showtime flexes Plex; adds eight feeds", Multichannel News, August 11, 1997. Retrieved February 24, 2011 from HighBeam Research.
- Viacom Board Agrees to Split of Company, The New York Times, June 15, 2005.
- SpongeBob or Survivor?, CNNMoney.com, December 19, 2005.
- "About Showtime networks". Retrieved 2006-08-12.
- "Cable Industry Information for The Movie Channel". National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
- Movie Channel's defining moment: high-def launch, Variety, October 6, 2003.
- Showtime press release (2005-03-29). "Showtime Networks To Launch FLIX ON DEMAND In Second Quarter 2005". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 2006-08-12.[dead link]
- CBS names head of movie division
- Showtime and Weinstein Co. Sign 7-Year Deal
- Deal for Showtime and Weinstein Company
- Showtime signs deal to air DreamWorks films
- Showtime Names Co-Heads Of Acqusitions
- TMC sets challenge: a no repeat month, HighBeam (via Multichannel News), Retrieved 2-9-2011.
- Movie Channel to push taping on VCR, HighBeam (via the Chicago Sun-Times), Retrieved 2-7-2011.
- TMC commercial on Youtube
- The Movie Channel Bumpers - (1989-1997)
- TMC commercial on Youtube