Showtime Networks Inc. last week outlined several new
digital plans, including two new channels and plans for high-definition television.
In September, the premium-movie service will launch its new
Showtime Beyond channel, featuring science-fiction, fantasy and horror programming.
And an as-yet-unnamed channel targeted to "Generation
Y" is slated to premiere on Showtime's digital-multiplex service in the summer
of 2000, following a fourth-quarter-1999 preview on the Internet.
Showtime also said last week that it will offer its main
East Coast and West Coast feeds in HDTV starting in the first quarter of next year.
Home Box Office began distributing HDTV programming this
Showtime decided to wait to launch HDTV until next year
because it didn't want to frustrate consumers by announcing a service that was not
likely to be widely distributed this year, Showtime Event Television executive vice
president of corporate strategy and communications Mark Greenberg said.
"Having it today sounds nice, but if nobody can see
it, what's the point?" Greenberg asked. He predicted that cable and satellite
operators would support HDTV more readily next year, but that the level of support would
vary from MSO to MSO.
Showtime is not likely to distribute all of the programming
on its main feeds in HDTV right from the start, but it will have a strong presence in
primetime, with theatricals, original movies and Showtime's boxing events delivered
HDTV will appeal to home-theater buffs, Greenberg said --
the same audience that's already attracted to the premium network.
Showtime Beyond will take up where Showtime's
"Sci-Fridays" leave off. The channel will include proprietary programming, such
as its TheOuter Limits and Stargate SG-1.
Focus groups and online information gathering will help
Showtime to name and program its new channel for Gen Y -- the 15- to 24-year-old children
of baby boomers -- Greenberg said.
"This is a very empowered and a very opinionated
group," Greenberg added. "You don't get third and fourth chances with
The new channels will be included under the umbrella brand
"Showtime Unlimited," along with Showtime, The Movie Channel, Showtime Extreme,
Flix and Sundance Channel.