Showtime, BET join forces for new cable multiplex channel

The logo of premium cable TV network Showtime. (Logo: ViacomCBS/Graphic: The Desk)

Premium cable TV network Showtime has launched a new multiplex channel that shares branding with sister-network BET, both companies announced on Monday.

The news was first published in the trade publication Variety. Showtime and BET are both owned by ViacomCBS.

The new channel, SHOxBET, was first announced in February. Starting today, the channel replaces Showtime Beyond. on cable and satellite systems that carry Showtime‘s linear multiplex networks. The linear channel will also be offered to viewers who subscribe to Showtime via Hulu and Amazon Prime Video Channels.

BET was incorporated into the Showtime subsidiary of ViacomCBS shortly after Viacom and CBS formalized their merger. Variety said both network’s popularity among Black viewers made joining forces and merging teams a logical step as ViacomCBS fine-tuned its content strategy post-merger.

“This channel is really a reflection of taking those complementary elements to the next logical conclusion,” Scott Mills, an executive in charge of BET Networks at ViacomCBS, told Variety on Monday. “Both platforms really understand premium programming to African American viewers and people who value content that is anchored in African American narratives and African American stories.”

SHOxBET will feature same-night replays of top Showtime programs, including drama “The Chi,” comedy “Black Monday” and talk show “Desus & Mero,” Variety said. The channel will also air boxing events and documentaries from Showtime’s catalog alongside first-run movies and BET original programming.

In February, a ViacomCBS executive said SHOxBET would replace Showtime Showcase, a general entertainment channel. Over the last few months, executives decided to keep Showtime Showcase, with SHOxBET replacing Showtime Showcase on cable and satellite systems and Showtime Showcase moving into Showtime Beyond’s channel slot.

Movies licensed for Showtime that previously aired on the science fiction-centric Showtime Beyond will be distributed on other Showtime multiplex channels and continue to be made available to subscribers on Showtime Anytime, the service’s Internet-based streaming app. For subscribers who pay for Showtime through Hulu, Amazon, Roku or another streaming service, those titles will be available alongside other movies and TV shows in Showtime’s catalog.

Showtime executives say they hope to retain current subscribers and reach new ones with SHOxBET.

“The goal for Showtime is to become broader, more accessible to different demo targets,” Showtime financial executive Tom Christie told Variety.