Universal Television

Universal Television LLC (abbreviated as UTV) is an American television production company that is a subsidiary of Universal Studio Group, a division of Comcast's NBCUniversal. It serves the television production arm of NBC; a predecessor of the company previously assumed such functions, and a substantial portion of the company's shows air on the network. It was formerly known as Revue Studios, Universal Pictures Television Department, Universal-International Television, MCA/Universal, MTE Inc., NBC Productions, NBC Studios, Studios USA Television LLC, Universal Network Television, Universal Domestic Television, USA Cable Entertainment, NBC Universal Television Studio, and Universal Media Studios. Re-established in 2004, both NBC Studios and the original Universal Network Television are predecessors of Universal Media Studios, formerly known as NBC Universal Television Studio.

Universal Television LLC
  • Revue Studios (1943–1963)
  • Universal Pictures Television Department (1956–1964)
  • Universal-International Television (1957–1963)
  • MCA/Universal (1951–1996)
  • MTE Inc. (1987–1996)
  • NBC Television Network (1947–1963)
  • NBC Productions (1963–1996)
  • NBC Studios (1996–2004)
  • Studios USA Television LLC (1998–2002)
  • Universal Network Television (a.k.a. Universal Domestic Television) (1999–2004)
  • USA Cable Entertainment (2000–2004)
  • NBC Universal Television Studio (2004–2007)
  • Universal Media Studios (2007–2011)
IndustryTelevision production
Broadcast syndication
Founded1943; 78 years ago (1943) (as Revue Studios)
1956; 65 years ago (1956) (as original incarnation)
2004; 17 years ago (2004) (current incarnation)
Key people
Erin Underhill
ParentUniversal Studio Group
WebsiteOfficial website

Universal Television Alternative StudioEdit

Universal Television Alternative Studio (Universal Television Alternative according to the on-screen logo) is a television production company owned by Universal Television made in 2016.


Revue StudiosEdit

Revue Productions (later known as Revue Studios) was founded in 1943 by MCA Inc. to produce live radio shows and also produced "Stage Door Canteen" live events for the United Service Organizations (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 programs. These 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 film Johnny Midnight, based on a fictitious New York City actor-turned-private investigator. 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.[1]

Revue 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 Television Network, 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 Television Network/NBC Productions/NBC StudiosEdit

NBC Television Network was founded in 1947 by RCA (NBC's former parent company). In 1955, NBC acquired production company Kagran Corporation[2], and by 1956, changed its company name to California National Productions.[3] The company's first hit was the television show Bonanza, which lasted from 1959 to 1973 on the NBC television network. Its follow-up project that was produced independently was Outlaws, a western from 1960 to 1962.

In 1961, California National changes its name to NBC Films, and in 1963, launched NBC Productions to continue producing its existing show Bonanza, and develop newer projects for the network.[4] NBC developed and produced several shows internally like Kentucky Jones and T.H.E. Cat. By 1966, the company had output talent deals with Sheldon Leonard, Bob Finkel, Norman Felton and David Dortort.[5] The next big project was The High Chaparral, which was a hit among viewers throughout its four-season run, only to be axed in 1971 due to the rural purge. By 1974, NBC is producing the next big hit Little House on the Prairie.

By the 1980s, NBC is producing Punky Brewster, which was popular among viewers. In 1988, NBC started a deal with Peter Engel that resulted in the creation of Good Morning, Miss Bliss and eventually producing a number of teen shows.[6] By 1990, NBC returned to producing hit programs with the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which starred Will Smith, in one of the first TV roles.

In 1995, NBC launched a partnership with television director James Burrows to create 3 Sisters Entertainment, who produced series for the network.[7] 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). Later that year, NBC Productions was however folded into NBC's entertainment division.[8]

In 1996, the company was renamed NBC Studios. In 2004, NBC Studios was merged with Universal Network Television to form NBC Universal Television Studios.[9]

MCA TelevisionEdit

MCA TV (also known as MCA Television Limited) was founded in 1948, several years before parent MCA Inc.'s purchase 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, New Jersey), The Munsters Today (a revival of the 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 block programming. The company launched the Universal Pictures Debut Network, an ad-hoc film network with plans to launch in two stages beginning in September 1985.[10] 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, fourth television network.[11] When Premier Program Service halted, MCA teamed up with BHC Communications for a syndicated block programming, WWOR-TV, that only lasted for the 1990-1991 season.[12] 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.[13]

In 1996, MCA TV was renamed 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.

Universal Television (original iteration)Edit

The first incarnation of Universal Television was reincorporated from Revue Productions in 1966, 4 years after MCA Inc. bought Universal Pictures and its then-current parent Decca Records. Among their many contributions to television programming included production of the first television film (See How They Run from 1964), the first wheel series (The 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 Equalizer, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, 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 Network.[14][15]

Universal purchased a 50% stake of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment in 1996 for $75 to $100 million. They considered buying the other 50% after selling its own TV unit to Barry Diller in 1998.[16] 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.[17]

Studios USA/Universal Network TelevisionEdit

USA Networks Inc. was formed by Barry Diller when he bought Universal's major television assets in October 1997.[18] 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 HSN, the Ticketmaster Group and several TV stations.[18] Universal TV's production and distribution unit was renamed Studios USA. Universal held on to its 50% share of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, PolyGram's international channels and the rights to its TV library while signing a long-term domestic sales deal with Studios 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.[19]

In 1999, USA Networks formed its own film and home media divisions when they acquired October Films and several production and distribution assets of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment for $200 million.[20] Although most of the new shows produced under the Studios USA name bombed after only one or two seasons, only Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The District deemed to be big hits to be produced under the Studios USA name. Although the latter two were cancelled, in 2011 and 2004 respectively, only the former is still an ongoing show.

In 2001, Vivendi acquired USA's entertainment assets for an estimated $10.3 billion. Under the deal, Barry Diller became chairman of Vivendi Universal Entertainment.[21] USA Networks is currently known as IAC. Shortly afterwards, in 2002, it was rebranded to Universal Network Television.[22][23]

PolyGram Television/Universal Worldwide TelevisionEdit

In 1997, PolyGram created a television division to distribute first-run syndicated and network series, hiring Bob Sanitsky from ICM Partners to be president of the division. The new unit absorbed the domestic syndication unit of ITC Entertainment (acquired by PolyGram in 1995), including its domestic sales president Matt Cooperstein.[24]

The division's first project was the syndication of new episodes of Alliance Atlantis' Due South, distributing 22 new episodes for primetime or weekend afternoon slots. It was distributed in conjunction with Worldvision Enterprises for ad sales.[25] The unit also syndicated action hour series such as The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (based on the Miramax film with Brandon Lee. The Walt Disney Company, its owner at the time had passed on the series) and Total Recall 2070, as well as the music variety program Motown Live.[26]

In early 1999, Shortly after Seagram and Universal completed their deal to acquire PolyGram. PolyGram TV was absorbed into Universal's TV and Networks division (which consisted of Universal's international TV operations). Universal would sell the ITC film and TV library to Carlton Communications, and the pre-1996 film library to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Following this, PolyGram TV was renamed Universal Worldwide Television, and in the fall of that year. UWT launched a successful realty strip, Blind Date (which gained a sister program from the same producers, The 5th Wheel).[27]

By 2001, rumours began circulating about the closure of the division (and its two series would have been sold off to another syndicator). However, by October, UWT's head of sales said the closure would not happen.[27]

In June 2002, after Vivendi Universal re-acquired the entertainment arm of USA Networks. Universal Worldwide Television was merged with Studios USA Domestic Television to form Universal Television Enterprises.[27]

USA Cable EntertainmentEdit

The origins of USA Cable Entertainment was traced back to the 1980s when it was formed as USA Network Productions to produce content for the USA Networks. In 1996, it was rebranded to USA Studios, and in 1999 to USA Networks Productions, and later on reincorporated as USA Cable Entertainment on December 24, 1999.[28] Stephen Chao is the company's president since 2000.[29]


NBC Universal Television Studios was formed in 2004 from NBC Studios and Universal Network Television after NBC and Universal merged.[9] 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.[30]

On July 21, 2009, Universal Cable Productions was split off from UMS and placed into NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group division.[31] On September 14, 2011, Universal Media Studios was renamed to Universal Television.[32] In October 2019, Universal Television was transferred from NBC Entertainment to NBCUniversal Content Studios.[33]

Shows producedEdit


  1. ^ Green, Paul & Price, Frank, A History of Television's the Virginian, 1962–1971. McFarland, pp. 16–17
  2. ^ "Kagran Corp Takes Over NBC Licensing Activities" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1955-05-30.
  3. ^ "NBC Subsidiary Changes Name As Result of Expansion" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. 1956-07-30.
  4. ^ "Six new NBC shows are on the drawing blocks" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1963-08-19. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  5. ^ (PDF) https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-Business/Magazines/Archive-BC-IDX/66-OCR/1966-12-12-BC-OCR-Page-0021.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Stay Tuned" (PDF). 1987-04-27.
  7. ^ C., S. (May 22, 1995). "Burrows cheers venture with NBC" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. p. 30 – via American Radio History.
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  10. ^ Kerry Segrave (January 1, 1999). Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. McFarland. p. 147. ISBN 9780786406548. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Richard W. Stevenson (October 20, 1989). "Plan Seen For Another TV Network". The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  12. ^ "MCA TV Spins The Bottle". Variety. April 10, 1995. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  13. ^ Brown, Rich (January 25, 1993). West, Donald V. (ed.). "New Faces, Familiar Ones Vie For Kids Audience" (PDF). Broadcasting. 123 (4): 72. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  14. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (1996-11-26). "Unit of MCA Is Acquiring Talk Shows". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  15. ^ "Seagram Buys USA Networks for $1.7 Billion". E! Online. 1997-09-23. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  16. ^ Hontz, Jenny (2018-01-31). "U may turn on its TV with Brillstein Grey". Variety.
  17. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (2018-01-31). "TV Production Jumps Ship". LA Times.
  18. ^ a b HOFMEISTER, SALLIE (1997-10-21). "Universal Sells Most of Its TV Assets to Diller". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  19. ^ "Company Reports: Studios USA". Variety. January 11, 1999. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Elsen, Jon (1999-08-04). "Barry Diller Gets $200M October Surprise". New York Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  21. ^ "Vivendi seals USA Networks deal - Dec. 17, 2001". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  22. ^ Klaussmann, Liza; Klaussmann, Liza (2002-05-22). "Viv U stock up after reports about spinoffs". Variety. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  23. ^ Schneider, Michael; Schneider, Michael (2002-08-13). "UPN taps Dosti as doyenne of drama". Variety. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  24. ^ "P'GRAM PUSHES TV". variety.com. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  25. ^ "Due South gets U.S. syndie deal". Playback.ca. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  26. ^ "NAPTE '98". AdAge.com. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  27. ^ a b c "Polygram TV unit stays at U". Variety.com. Retrieved 2020-08-02. Cite error: The named reference "Variety" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Variety" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  28. ^ https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/CBS/Detail. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Dempsey, John; Dempsey, John (2000-03-24). "Chao to top USA Cable". Variety. Retrieved 2021-07-24.
  30. ^ "NBC's TV unit gets new name". Los Angeles Times. June 15, 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  31. ^ Lafayette, Jon (July 20, 2008). "NBC Taps Cable-Studio Bosses". TV Week.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 12, 2011). "Universal Media Studios Gets New Heads Of Drama, Comedy & Casting And New Name". Deadline. PMC Network. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  33. ^ Littleton, Cynthia; Low, Elaine (October 7, 2019). "NBCUniversal Shakeup: Bonnie Hammer to Head Studios, Paul Telegdy Goes Solo at NBC". Variety. Retrieved October 8, 2019.

External linksEdit