Smithsonian Channel

Smithsonian Channel
Launched September 26, 2007
Owned by Smithsonian Institution
Showtime Networks, Inc.
(CBS Corporation)
Picture format 1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
Slogan It's brighter here
Country United States
Broadcast area United States
Latin America
Headquarters Washington, DC
Sister channel(s) Showtime
The Movie Channel
DirecTV United States:
Channel 570 (HD)
Channel 1570 (VOD)
Latin America
Channel 1747 (HD)
Dish Network Channel 367 (SD/HD)
Available on most cable systems Channel slots may vary
Verizon FiOS Channel 634 (HD)
Starhub TV
Channel 415 (HD)
AT&T U-verse Channel 118 (SD)
Channel 1118 (HD)
Streaming media
YouTube TV Internet Protocol television
Hulu Live TV Internet Protocol television
FuboTV Internet Protocol television

Smithsonian Networks is a joint venture between CBS Corporation's Showtime Networks, Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution. The service consists of Smithsonian Channel, Smithsonian On Demand, and

The network’s content is inspired by the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, research facilities and magazines. It features original non-fiction programming that covers a wide range of historical, scientific and cultural subjects. It is also available from On Demand in both high definition and standard definition.

As of February 2015, approximately 33.6 million American households (28.9% of those with television) receive Smithsonian Channel.[1]


The Smithsonian Channel features a wide array of programming covering science, nature, culture, history, air and spacecraft, and documentaries. They create everything from long-running series to one-off, in depth specials.

  • Aerial America showcases each of the 50 states from the air, with special episodes devoted to small towns, the wilderness, etc. Narrated by Jim Conrad.[2] Related shows are Sky View, featuring areas in western Europe;[3] Aerial Ireland;[4] Aerial New Zealand;[5] Aerial Africa;[6] and Aerial Cities, featuring selected American cities.[7]
  • Soul Revolution hosted by Morgan Freeman premiered November 16, 2008.
  • Season two of Stories from the Vaults starring Tom Cavanagh premiered July 12, 2009.[8]
  • Mystery of the Hope Diamond – On August 19, 2009, the Smithsonian Institution announced that the Hope Diamond was to get a temporary new setting to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Harry Winston's donation of the gem stone to the National Museum of Natural History. Starting in September, the 45.52-carat (9.104 g) diamond would be exhibited as a stand-alone gem with no setting. From August 19, 2009 through September 7, 2009, the public was invited to vote online for their favorite Harry Winston designed setting, at The winning setting would be announced this fall and the gem would be shown in the setting starting in May, along with a Smithsonian Networks documentary.[9]
  • Soul of a People: Writing America's Story – A National Endowment for the Humanities-funded documentary about the Federal Writers' Project featuring interviews with notable project alumni Studs Terkel, Stetson Kennedy, and American historian Douglas Brinkley. Premiered September 6, 2009.
  • MLK: The Assassination Tapes produced by 1895 FILMS for Smithsonian Channel premiered on February 12, 2012 and received a Peabody Award.[10] The winner's citation for the Peabody Award describes the documentary as "[p]ainstakingly configured from rare footage collected at the University of Memphis in 1968...leading up to the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and its aftermath."[11]
  • Terror in the Skies examines problems in commercial airline flights,[12][13][14]
  • Air Warriors is a series covering the F-15 Eagle, the V-22 Osprey, and the AH-64 Apache and the stories of the dedicated pilots and teams who fly and maintain these ultimate air warriors. It premiered on November 9, 2014.[15]
  • The Real Story goes behind the scenes of some of Hollywood's biggest movies and displays true stories that inspired some of Hollywood's most famous blockbusters. (Also known as The True Story in the United Kingdom.)[16]

Smithsonian Channel's programming library is currently distributed by Trifecta Entertainment & Media.


Originally only offered in high definition, the Smithsonian Channel HD began airing on DirecTV's new HD lineup on September 26, 2007. Dish Network had originally added the HD channel on May 12, 2008, until February 1, 2009, when Dish dropped it. Then on December 11, 2015, Dish began to offer the channel again.[17] In 2010, Smithsonian Networks entered into an agreement with Comcast for broadcast of the channel until 2020.

Smithsonian Networks is also available on AT&T U-verse and Charter Communications in high definition and standard definition and on Verizon FiOS, Mediacom, and CenturyLink's Prism as part of their Premium and Preferred packages.

Since 2015, Cox Communications added the channel on at least a few of their systems.

In addition, full episodes and clips are available on devices such as the iPad, Android as well as streaming media devices such as Roku and Apple TV.[18][19][20]


In 2006 Carl Malamud of publishing and sharing non-profit Public.Resource.Org complained that private company Showtime and the publicly owned Smithsonian Institution were entering a contract to establish Smithsonian Networks without sufficient public disclosure.[21] Under the contract Showtime would be able to deny permission to other media producers wishing access to Smithsonian collections.[22] Documentarian Ken Burns said of this deal "I find this deal terrifying... It feels like the Smithsonian has essentially optioned America's attic to one company".[22]



  1. Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2015). "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  2. "Aerial America". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  3. "Smithsonian Channel – Sky View". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. "Aerial Ireland". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. "Aerial New Zealand". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  6. "Aerial Africa". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  7. "Aerial Cities". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  8. Tom Cavanagh Is the Inside Man for the 'Vaults' Job, July 12, 2009
  9. Hope Diamond to get new setting for Anniversary, August 19, 2009 Archived August 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2013.
  11. MLK: The Assassination Tapes (Smithsonian Channel), November 26, 2013.
  12. Arrow Media, Humans at Helm: Is Any Flight Safe?, Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, 27 September 2013
  13. The Futon Critic, Smithsonian Channel(TM) to Premiere "Terror in the Skies" Sunday, September 29 at 8PM ET/PT, 16 September 2013
  14. National Geographic Channel – International, Terror in the Skies
  15. "Air Warriors". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  16. "The Real Story". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  17. "Dish Network adds Smithsonian Channel in High Definition". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  18. "Ways to Watch Smithsonian Channel". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  19. Roku. "Roku". Roku. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  20. "Apple TV Adds Apps for Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney, and Smithsonian Channel". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  21. O'Reilly, Tim (5 April 2006). "Smithsonian Sunshine – O'Reilly Radar". Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  22. 1 2 Wyatt, Edward (1 April 2006). "Smithsonian Agreement Angers Filmmakers". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 October 2013.

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