CAIRO March 22, 2001: Showtime, one of the Middle East's main contenders in pay television, announced today that it is adding eight new premium sports, news, entertainment, and documentary channels to its bouquet.
The network is now the exclusive regional carrier of the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, which covers both regional and international events--including lots and lots of what Middle East viewers want the most, football. Showtime has also added Eurosport News; Showtime Sport, which carries the English Premier League; and Extreme Sports. Other new offerings are CNBC news coverage live from the United States, educational and documentary programming on Animal Planet and Discovery Civilization, and Hollywood coverage from E! Entertainment Television.
Showtime also announced the repackaging of its subscription options, giving viewers more flexibility in choosing the channels they most want to watch. The basic package is Showtime Plus, which offers twelve channels--a boost from the previous entry-level package, the mini bouquet, which included only four channels. The Sports Plus package adds on the four new dedicated sports channels. Movies Plus adds four movie channels--The Movie Channel and The Movie Channel 2, Turner Classic Movies, and Hallmark--plus the new Showtime addition Animal Planet. The premium option is Total Plus, giving subscribers access to all 24 of the network's offerings.
Showtime CEO Peter Einstein said that "since launch Showtime has maintained a consistent price while tripling the number of channels available. With these new channels joining the network, we now have 24 premium entertainment options to offer subscribers even more choice and better value."
A few weeks prior to the relaunch Showtime, to fight back against pirated "smart cards," upgraded subscribers' smart cards and switched its encryption code. The company estimated that hundreds of thousands of households in the Middle East were receiving Showtime channels illegally, costing the network $100 million a year.