Flix is an American premium cable and satellite television network that is owned by the Showtime Networks, Inc. subsidiary of CBS Corporation. Its programming consists solely of theatrically released feature films released from the 1970s to the present day, interspersed with some films from the 1950s and 1960s.
It is the only premium television service in the United States that does not operate any multiplex channels that provide additional programming alongside the main service. Although Flix is typically offered as part of the Showtime multiplex, the channel's carriage varies depending on both the cable provider and market, therefore it may not be available alongside Showtime and The Movie Channel's multiplex services in all areas.
The network launched on August 1, 1992, as a single-channel "mini-pay" service. Flix originally featured movies from the 1960s to the 1980s, although it would gradually begin to scatter some 1990s film titles onto the network's schedule over time. At its launch, Flix had been one of the last premium channels to restrict the broadcast of R-rated films to the nighttime hours. A notable aspect of Flix during its early days was that the channel did not solely advertise the channel's own prime time lineup, but also ran a schedule of programs that were slated to air that evening on the other major U.S. premium channels – including HBO, Cinemax and Encore as well as sister networks Showtime and The Movie Channel – during breaks between daytime movies (since 2002, Showtime has been the only other premium service that the network has provided prime time listings during its prime time lineup segment).
Three years prior to the channel's launch, in 1989, Tele-Communications Inc. made a failed bid to acquire a 50% ownership stake in Showtime from Viacom. There was some debate as to whether Viacom or TCI originally conceived the idea for Encore, another (one-time) "mini-pay" service that was originally similar in format to Flix, which also focused on films from the 1960s to the 1980s until a format change in 1999 in which that channel added more recent films to its schedule. Viacom executives insisted that TCI lifted part of the idea for Encore from the company's Showtime Networks division. John Sie, the president of Encore at the time, said in a 1991 interview with Multichannel News that TCI brought up the concept of the Encore network as a way to revitalize Showtime, either by launching a new tertiary service from scratch or by overhauling the format of Showtime's existing sister network The Movie Channel.
On June 14, 2005, Viacom decided to separate itself into two companies (only six years after the company'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 restructured as 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).
In 2007, Flix began to broadcast certain R-rated movies during daytime timeslots. That same year, Flix began to air movies released in 2000, including such titles as Reindeer Games and Pitch Black; other films released during the 2000s have been added to the network's schedule since then.
Flix On Demand is the channel's subscription video-on-demand service; it is available to subscribers who receive the channel along with the other Showtime multiplex channels, though a few cable systems carry it as a free service that does not require a subscription as an inducement for customers to subscribe to the full Showtime suite of channels. Launched in 2005, Flix On Demand offers classic movies released between the 1950s and the 1990s, which are divided by category based on the decade of their release: 1950s and 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
As of August 2013[update], Flix – through Showtime – maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network sister company CBS Films (since 2007), The Weinstein Company (since 2009, including releases by Dimension Films; Netflix will assume the rights to The Weinstein Company's films starting in 2016; ironically, TWC owns 25% of rival premium channel Starz), DreamWorks (featuring only live-action releases through Touchstone Pictures, as part of a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures), IFC Films, Miramax Films (including films released by Dimension Films), Summit Entertainment (for films released prior to 2013), WWE Films, Magnolia Pictures, First Look Studios and Anchor Bay Entertainment (ironically owned by Starz).
Flix 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 former subsidiary and current independently operated studio Miramax), 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), Relativity Media (after Netflix's pay television window for its individual releases concludes), Paramount Pictures and Lions Gate Entertainment (sub-run rights with the latter three studios are for films released prior to 2008). Although it does not hold the pay television rights to telecast recent films from 20th Century Fox – which are held by HBO, as of 2015[update] – The Movie Channel does run independent films to which that studio owns the home video rights, regardless as to whether they were 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). Usually films that Showtime holds the pay-cable rights to broadcast will also run on Flix and sister service The Movie Channel during the period of its term of license agreement.
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 Flix. 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 Flix and The Movie Channel during the period of its term of licensing.
On October 1, 2013, Showtime Networks announced that it entered into a four-year film licensing agreement with Open Road Films to broadcast feature films released by the studio between 2017 and 2020.
On January 20, 2015, Showtime announced that it entered into a multi-year premium television output deal with film, television and multimedia studio STX Entertainment. The deal encompasses all films distributed theatrically by the studio through 2019, which will be shown exclusively on Showtime Networks and its multiplex channels.