Showtime: Movies out, series in


Showtime is ditching its made-for-TV-movie focus in favor of more original

The pay network currently airs about two original movies per month, down from three
several years ago.

Starting next year, however, Showtime will cut back further to about one
movie per month, executive vice president of original programming Gary
Levine said.

"Ultimately, series are more addictive to an audience and have more impact in
the marketplace than movies," he added.

In their place, Showtime plans more scripted dramas, along with reality
shows, improv and animated programs. A late-night block is also in development.

Showtime's programming budget is increasing about 5 percent to $425 million.
The channel isn't setting goals for the number of series on air per year.

The new focus may look like a ploy to take on pay Goliath Home Box Office, but Levine
said, "We're looking to strengthen Showtime. We want to grow our business."

More series -- particularly if one or two stick -- would help to drive new
subscribers and present more opportunities for syndication.

Showtime has been wary of early syndication windows on basic cable, though.
"The idea of people watching isn't enough," Levine said. "We need people to
associate shows with Showtime."