Universal Television is the television production subsidiary of the NBCUniversal Television Group 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 Studios, NBC Universal Television Studio, and Universal Media Studios. Both NBC Studios and Universal Network Television are predecessors of Universal Media Studios.


Revue Studios

Revue Productions (also 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 1964, MCA formed Universal City Studios to merge the Motion Picture and Television arms of both Universal Pictures and Revue Productions, and Revue was officially renamed Universal Television in 1966.

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. 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.[2]

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 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 Studio.[1]

MCA Television

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

In 1996 MCA TV was renamed to 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.

MCA Television Entertainment (commonly known as MTE) 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 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

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, 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 USA Networks and Multimedia Entertainment. In 1997, After the breakup of the United International Pictures TV arm. the company formed Universal Worldwide Television. In 1998, Universal sold off its USA Networks and Universal Television to Barry Diller and renamed it Studios USA.

In 1999, Seagram bought PolyGram, which included PolyGram Television and the post-1996 film library (plus some of the pre-1996 films). The deal closed in 2000 and quickly adapted PolyGram to the Universal name. Vivendi Universal acquired Studios USA and made Diller as CEO of VU Entertainment fully reforming Universal Television.

On August 2, 2004, GE formed NBC Universal Television.[1]

USA Networks Inc.

USA Networks Inc. was formed by Barry Diller when he bought Universal's major television assets in 1997.[7] Among its assets were the USA Network cable channel and shows such as Law & Order. Additionally, the company would own the Home Shopping Network, the Ticketmaster Group and several other broadcast TV stations.[7]

In 1999, USA Networks formed film and home media divisions when they acquired October Films and several production and distribution assets of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, for $200 million.[8]

In 2001, Vivendi Universal acquired USA's entertainment assets, for an estimated $10.3 billion.[9] Under the deal, Barry Diller became chairman of the new company called Vivendi Universal Entertainment. [9] USA Networks is currently known as IAC InterActiveCorp.

Brillstein-Grey Entertainment

Universal Studios formerly owned a 50% stake in Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, an independent production company co-founded by the late talent manager Bernie Brillstein and the late Brad Grey, Brillstein Grey produced The Larry Sanders Show and The Sopranos for HBO, NewsRadio and Just Shoot Me (both co-produced by Columbia TriStar Television) for NBC, Politically Incorrect (co-produced by HBO) for ABC, and The Steve Harvey Show for The WB.

Universal purchased the 50% stake in 1996 for $75 to $100 million, Universal considered buying the other 50% after selling its own TV unit to Barry Diller in 1998.[10]

Universal sold its stake in BGE in 1999 and BGE was renamed to Brad Grey Television, Universal continued to co-produce Just Shoot Me and The Steve Harvey Show until their cancellations.[11]


NBC Universal Television Studio was formed in 2004 from NBC Studios and Universal Network Television after NBC and Universal merged.[1] On June 14, 2007, NBC Universal Television Studio was renamed Universal Media Studios (UMS) as the unit would be also developing entertainment for the web.[12]

On July 21, 2009, Universal Cable Productions was split off from UMS and placed into NBCUniversal's NBCU Cable Entertainment division.[13] On September 12, 2011, Universal Media Studios was renamed to Universal Television.[14]

Currently produced

Title Network Original running Notes
Will & Grace NBC 1998–2006;
with KoMut Entertainment and 3 Princesses and a P
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 1999–present with Wolf Films
Last Call with Carson Daly 2002–present with Carson Daly Productions
Chicago Fire 2012–present with Wolf Films
Hollywood Game Night 2013–present with Hazy Mills Productions and Mission Control Media
The Blacklist 2013–present with Davis Entertainment
Chicago PD 2014–present with Wolf Films
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 2014–present with Broadway Video
Late Night with Seth Meyers 2014–present with Broadway Video
Chicago Med 2015–present with Wolf Films
Superstore 2015–present with Spitzer Holding Company and The District
Shades of Blue 2016–present with Nuyorican Productions, EGTV Productions, Ryan Seacrest Productions, Jack Orman Productions and Adi TV Studios
Better Late Than Never 2016–present with Storyline Entertainment, CJ E&M and Small World International Format Television, produced as Universal Television Alternative.
The Good Place 2016–present with Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment
Timeless 2016–present with MiddKid Productions, Kripke Enterprises, Davis Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television[15]
Taken 2017–present with Boomerang Productions, Matthew Gross Entertainment and EuropaCorp Television
Great News 2017–present with Little Stranger, Inc., Bevel Gears, Big Wig Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment
Midnight, Texas 2017–present with David Janollari Entertainment
Marlon 2017–present with Baby Way Productions, Bicycle Path Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment
The Brave 2017–present with Keshet Studios
Law & Order True Crime 2017–present with Wolf Films
A.P. Bio 2018–present with Broadway Video and Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions
Good Girls 2018–present with Minnesota Logging Company
Champions 2018–present with Kaling International, Charlie Grandy Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment
Rise 2018–present with Seller Suarez Productions and True Jack Productions
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox 2013–present with Fremulon, Dr. Goor Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Netflix 2015–present with Little Stranger, Inc., Bevel Gears and 3 Arts Entertainment
Master of None 2015–present with Alan Yang Pictures, Oh Brudder Productions, Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment
The Path Hulu 2016–present with True Jack Productions and Refuge, Inc.
The Bold Type Freeform 2017–present with The District

Future productions

Formerly produced


  1. ^ a b c d "NBCU unit trades 'television' for 'media'". The Online Reporter. June 25, 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  2. ^ pp. 16–17 Green, Paul & Price, Frank, A History of Television's the Virginian, 1962–1971. McFarland, 30/05/2010
  3. ^ Kerry Segrave (January 1, 1999). Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. McFarland. p. 147. Retrieved April 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ Richard W. Stevenson (October 20, 1989). "Plan Seen For Another TV Network". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ "MCA TV Spins The Bottle". Variety. April 10, 1995. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Elsen, Jon (1999-08-04). "Barry Diller Gets $200M October Surprise". New York Post. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  9. ^ a b "Vivendi seals USA Networks deal - Dec. 17, 2001". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2017-10-25. 
  10. ^ Hontz, Jenny (2018-01-31). "U may turn on its TV with Brillstein Grey". Variety. 
  11. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (2018-01-31). "TV Production Jumps Ship". LA Times. 
  12. ^ "NBC's TV unit gets new name". Los Angeles Times. June 15, 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Perry, Spencer (February 15, 2017). "Universal Studios Buys a Minority Stake in Amblin Partners". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 

External links