Smithsonian Channel
The Smithsonian Channel Logo
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNorth America, UK, Ireland, Africa, Asia
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
OwnerParamount Global
ParentMTV Entertainment Group
Sister channels
LaunchedSeptember 26, 2007; 16 years ago (September 26, 2007)
Streaming media
Service(s)YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, Philo

The Smithsonian Channel is an American pay television channel owned by Paramount Global through its media networks division under MTV Entertainment Group.[1] It offers video content inspired by the Smithsonian Institution's museums, research facilities and magazines.

The channel features original non-fiction programming that covers a wide range of historical, scientific, and cultural subjects. As of February 2015, approximately 33.6 million American households (28.9% of those with televisions) receive Smithsonian Channel.[2] It is also available as a video on demand service, depending on the service provider, and in various Internet streaming and download formats.[3]

The channel was launched as a joint venture of Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution as Smithsonian On Demand in 2006, and later became Smithsonian Channel in 2007.[4] Smithsonian Channel Plus, a US$5 monthly subscription also offering access to the channel's past content library, and incorporating the former Smithsonian Earth streaming service, was launched in 2018.[5] As of the fall of 2020, it was merged into CBS All Access (later renamed Paramount+).

In February 2019, Smithsonian Channel: UK & Ireland launched on their domestic cable and satellite providers, along with Freeview. The station closed in 2023.


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.

Smithsonian Channel's programming library is currently distributed by Paramount Global Distribution Group.


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.[30] In 2010, Smithsonian Networks entered into an agreement with Comcast for broadcast of the channel on its Xfinity service until 2020.[needs update]

Smithsonian Networks is also available on 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.

Since 2016, the channel was launched in Singapore on Starhub TV. It started broadcasting in Indonesia on Vidio App, Nexmedia and First Media in 2019.

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.[31][32][33]

In December 2018, HD test transmissions for the Smithsonian Channel were broadcast on the Astra 2G satellite used by the UK's Sky platform.[34] The channel launched on 12 February 2019 on all major UK platforms.[35]

On July 20, 2019, DirecTV and AT&T U-verse removed it from their lineup due to a carriage dispute with CBS Corporation.[36] Carriage was restored on August 8, 2019.[37]


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.[38] Under the contract, Showtime would be able to deny permission to other media producers wishing access to Smithsonian collections.[39] 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".[39]


See also



  1. ^ "Smithsonian sells its stake in... the Smithsonian Channel". November 8, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2015). "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "Smithsonian Channel: FAQ". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "Smithsonian Channel Records · SOVA". Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  5. ^ Ellingson, Annlee (December 13, 2018). "Smithsonian launches new subscription streaming service". L.A. Biz. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  6. ^ "Aerial America". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "Smithsonian Channel – Sky View". Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "Aerial Ireland". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Aerial New Zealand". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  10. ^ "Aerial Africa". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  11. ^ "Aerial Britain". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  12. ^ "Aerial Greece". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  13. ^ "Aerial Argentina". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  14. ^ "Aerial Italy". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  15. ^ "China From Above". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  16. ^ "Aerial Cities". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  17. ^ Tom Cavanagh Is the Inside Man for the 'Vaults' Job, July 12, 2009
  18. ^ Hope Diamond to get new setting for Anniversary, August 19, 2009 Archived August 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2013.
  20. ^ MLK: The Assassination Tapes (Smithsonian Channel), November 26, 2013.
  21. ^ "Smithsonian Channel(TM) to Premiere "Terror in the Skies" Sunday, September 29 at 8PM ET/PT". The Futon Critic. September 16, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  22. ^ Arrow Media, Humans at Helm: Is Any Flight Safe?, Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, September 27, 2013
  23. ^ The Futon Critic, Smithsonian Channel(TM) to Premiere "Terror in the Skies" Sunday, September 29 at 8PM ET/PT, September 16, 2013
  24. ^ National Geographic Channel – International, Terror in the Skies
  25. ^ "MAYDAY: AIR DISASTER". Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  26. ^ Smithsonian Channel listing for the TV show Air Disasters
  27. ^ "Air Warriors". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  28. ^ "The Real Story". Smithsonian Channel. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  29. ^ "Secrets". IMDb. August 4, 2013.
  30. ^ "Dish Network adds Smithsonian Channel in High Definition". Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  31. ^ "Ways to Watch Smithsonian Channel". Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  32. ^ Roku. "Roku". Roku. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  33. ^ "Apple TV Adds Apps for Vevo, Weather Channel, Disney, and Smithsonian Channel". August 27, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  34. ^ Astra 2G at 28.2°E Lyngsat. Accessed January 2, 2019
  35. ^ Sherwin, Adam (February 8, 2019). "Smithsonian Channel to take on BBC4 with 'fact-checked' shows for UK viewers". The i. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  36. ^ CBS channels get blackout on DirecTV and other AT&T services CNET, July 24, 2019
  37. ^ White, Peter (August 8, 2019). "CBS & AT&T Strike Carriage Deal, Ending Blackout On DirecTV Services". Deadline. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  38. ^ O'Reilly, Tim (April 5, 2006). "Smithsonian Sunshine – O'Reilly Radar". Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  39. ^ a b Wyatt, Edward (April 1, 2006). "Smithsonian Agreement Angers Filmmakers". The New York Times. New York. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 20, 2013.