Universal Television LLC is an American television production subsidiary of NBCUniversal Content Studios and, by extension, the production arm of the NBC television network (since a majority of the company's shows air on NBC, and accounts for most of that network's prime time programming). It was formerly known as Revue Studios, MCA/Universal, NBC Productions, NBC Studios, NBC Universal Television Studio, and Universal Media Studios. Both NBC Studios and Universal Network Television are predecessors of Universal Media Studios.
NBC Universal Television Studio
Universal Media Studios
|Founder||MCA Inc. |
Revue Productions (later known as Revue Studios) was founded in 1943 by MCA to produce live radio shows and also produced "Stage Door Canteen" live events for the USO during World War II. Revue was re-launched as MCA's television production subsidiary in 1950. The partnership of NBC and Revue extends as far back as September 6, 1950, with the television broadcast of Armour Theatre, based on radio's Stars Over Hollywood. MCA bought the Universal Studios lot in 1958 and was renamed Revue Studios. Following its merger with Decca Records, the then-parent of Universal Pictures, the studio backlot name was changed back to Universal. In 1963, MCA formed Universal City Studios to merge the Motion Picture and Television arms of both Universal Pictures and Revue Studios and Revue was officially renamed Universal Television in 1963.
During the early years of television, Revue was responsible for producing and/or distributing many television classics. The most noteworthy included Leave It to Beaver, which ran for only one season on CBS before going to ABC from 1958 until 1963. In addition, Revue also made Alan Hale, Jr.'s Biff Baker, U.S.A. (1952–1953) and all three of Rod Cameron's syndicated series, City Detective (1953–1955), State Trooper (1956–1959), and Coronado 9 (1960–1961) and the Bill Williams western series, The Adventures of Kit Carson (1951–1955). It produced Bachelor Father (1957–1962), for "Bachelor Productions", Edmond O'Brien's syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, based on a fictitious New York City actor-turned-private detective. Another of its offerings was the 52-episode Crusader, the first Brian Keith series, which ran on CBS 1955–1956. Another western produced by Revue and starring Audie Murphy was Whispering Smith (NBC, 1959/61), based on the 1948 Alan Ladd movie of the same name. Leave It to Beaver was produced first by George Gobel's Golmaco Productions, then by Kayro Productions on a back lot at Revue Studios from 1958 to 1963. Also McHale's Navy was produced by Revue from 1962 to 1966.
In December 1958 MCA/Revue purchased Universal Studios's 367 acre backlot to produce television series, then leased it back to Universal for a million dollars a year for a decade.
Revue also produced later seasons of The Jack Benny Program for CBS and NBC and in co-operation with Jack Benny's J and M productions Checkmate, General Electric Theater and Alfred Hitchcock Presents for CBS, Studio 57 for DuMont, and westerns such as Tales of Wells Fargo, The Restless Gun and Laramie for NBC, as well as Wagon Train for NBC and ABC, and the first two seasons of NBC's The Virginian, based on a film released originally by Paramount Pictures, whose pre-1950 theatrical sound feature film library was sold to MCA in 1957. Wagon Train was the only Revue-produced TV show ever to finish an American television season in first place.
NBC Productions/NBC Studios
NBC Productions was founded in 1947 by RCA (NBC's former parent company). In 1996, the company was renamed NBC Studios. In 2004, NBC Studios was merged with Universal Network Television to form NBC Universal Television Studios.
In 1995, NBC launched a partnership with television director James Burrows to create 3 Sisters Entertainment, who produced series for the network. Out of these five, the most successful out of the venture were Will & Grace and Caroline in the City (co-produced and owned by CBS Productions).
MCA TV (also known as MCA Television Enterprises) was founded in 1951, several years before parent MCA's purchase of the US branch of Decca Records (in 1959) and Universal Pictures (in 1962). For more than four decades, it was one of the most active syndicators of television programming. During the 1980s, it distributed both off-network reruns of shows like Kate & Allie and Gimme a Break!, as well as original syndication product like the animated action series Bionic Six (co-produced with TMS Entertainment), The Morton Downey Jr. Show (taped at then-MCA owned WWOR-TV in Secaucus, NJ), The Munsters Today (a revival of the classic Universal sitcom), and Pictionary, based on the popular board game.
MCA Television attempted several branded TV packages in 1985 to 2001 including an ad-hoc film network, a broadcast network and a few syndicated programming blocks. The company launched the Universal Pictures Debut Network, an ad-hoc film network with plans to launch in two stages beginning in September 1985. MCA TV and Paramount Domestic Television had formed Premier Advertiser Sales, a joint venture created for the sale of advertising for their existing syndicated programs in September 1989. As a possible outgrowth of this sales joint venture, MCA and Paramount began plans for a new network, Premier Program Service. When Premier Program Service halted, MCA teamed up with Chris-Craft TV for a syndicated programming block, Hollywood Premiere Network, that only lasted for the 1990-1991 season. The Universal Family Network syndicated programming block was launched by the company in the fall of 1993 with a single weekly half hour show, Exosquad, as a counter to The Disney Afternoon.
In 1996 MCA TV was renamed as Universal Television Enterprises; at this time they also assumed production and distribution of several daytime talk shows previously produced by Multimedia Entertainment (which Universal had acquired), including The Jerry Springer Show.
MTE (known as MCA Television Entertainment) was formed in 1987. It primarily dealt with made-for-TV movies and series like Dream On that were made for cable networks like HBO. Like MCA TV, in 1996, it was renamed as Universal Television Entertainment.
EMKA, Ltd. is the holding company responsible for a majority of the pre-1950 Paramount Pictures sound library. As an official part of the Universal Pictures library, they are part of the company's television unit, Universal Television.
The first incarnation of Universal Television was reincorporated from Revue Productions in 1966, 4 years after MCA bought Universal Pictures and its then-current parent Decca Records. Among their many contributions to television programming included production of the first motion picture made exclusively for television (See How They Run from 1964), the first series with revolving stars (Name of the Game from 1968), the first rotating series with an umbrella title (1969's The Bold Ones) and the first two-part television movie (Vanished from 1971). Uni TV (also commonly known as MCA/Universal) also co-produced many shows with Jack Webb's Mark VII Limited such as Emergency!, Adam-12 and a revival of the 1951 series Dragnet. During the 1970s and 1980s, Uni TV produced shows such as Baretta, The Rockford Files, Murder, She Wrote, Miami Vice, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV series), Knight Rider, The A-Team, Simon & Simon and Magnum, P.I., which received critical acclaim and several TV movie spin-offs after their cancellations.
In 1990, MCA/Uni TV began the Law & Order franchise. In 1996, MCA was reincorporated as Universal Studios. Around the same time, Universal was acquired by Joseph A. Seagram and Sons and later acquired the Multimedia Entertainment and USA Networks.
Universal purchased a 50% stake of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment in 1996 for $75 to $100 million. Theyconsidered buying the other 50% after selling its own TV unit to Barry Diller in 1998. Universal sold its stake in BGE in 1999 and BGE was renamed as Brad Grey Television, Universal continued to co-produce Just Shoot Me! and The Steve Harvey Show until their cancellations.
USA Networks Inc. was formed by Barry Diller when he bought Universal's major television assets in October 1997. Among its assets were the USA Network and Sci-Fi cable channels along with series such as Law & Order. Additionally, the company would own the Home Shopping Network, the Ticketmaster Group and several TV stations. Universal TV's production and distribution unit was renamed Studio USA. Universal held on to its 50% share of Brillstein-Grey Entertaiment, PolyGram Television's international channels and the rights to its TV library while signing a long-term domestic sales deal with Studio USA for the library. Universal got a 45% share in USA Networks Inc. Greg Meidel initially resigned and was rehired as chairman and CEO of Studios USA, only to leave in June 1998.
In 2001, Vivendi Universal acquired USA's entertainment assets for an estimated $10.3 billion. Under the deal, Barry Diller became chairman of Vivendi Universal Entertainment. USA Networks is currently known as IAC InterActiveCorp.
NBC Universal Television Studios was formed in 2004 from NBC Studios and Universal Network Television after NBC and Universal merged. On November 5, 2007, NBC Universal Television Studio was renamed Universal Media Studios (UMS) as the unit would be also developing entertainment for the web.
On July 21, 2009, Universal Cable Productions was split off from UMS and placed into NBCUniversal's NBCU Cable Entertainment division. On September 14, 2011, Universal Media Studios was renamed to Universal Television. In October 2019, Universal Television was transferred from NBC Entertainment to NBCUniversal Content Studios.
NBCUniversal Content Studios
NBCUniversal Content Studios is a division of NBCUniversal, holding the parent company's TV production units and late night programming units.
NBCUniversal Content Studios was formed in October 2019, with Bonnie Hammer as chairwoman and George Cheeks (formerly a chairman of NBCU Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises) as vice chairman as well as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. This new unit consists of Universal Television and Universal Content Productions. Cheeks would also retain NBC's late night programming.
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