With 19 million homes, the U.K. move is the single-biggest launch ever for the joint venture of CBS Corp.’s Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution.

CBS Corp.’s Smithsonian Channel, a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution, is launching its first European service in the U.K. on Feb. 12, continuing its push into international markets.

The network previously launched in Canada, Singapore and Latin America. Now British and Irish viewers will have access on Comcast’s Sky, cable giant Virgin Media and free-to-air satellite TV service Freesat. The channel will also become available on digital terrestrial platform Freeview by the end of February.

The Smithsonian Channel, whose original content covers a range of non-fiction topics, including history, travel, air and space, science, nature and pop culture, has previously licensed its programming to such U.K. TV giants as the BBC, but is now looking to make a splash with its own network, which will include original local programming.

The U.K. move is the channel’s single-biggest launch with 19 million homes. In 2007, the U.S. launch happened in 150,000 homes, which has grown to nearly 40 million. “So we are used to people telling us there is no room for you, and we love proving them wrong,” David Royle, chief programming officer, Smithsonian Networks, tells THR.

And he highlights the channel’s long-running experience and relationships in Britain. “We have a long track-record of working with U.K. production companies, and over the years our programs have been featured by leading U.K. broadcasters,” says Royle. “Now we’ll be bringing a lot of exciting new programs to the U.K., along with commissioning new programs specific to British interests.”

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