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Starz Officials: Future is Bright for Smaller Streaming Services

Michael King

Officials with Lionsgate and Starz, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference on Tuesday said that Starz sits in a slightly different place that it has carved out for itself separately from other streaming services.

“We really think there’s three tiers of services that you’ll see in the digital world,” said Jeff Hirsch, Starz’s CEO, while trying to explain where Starz has settled into the streaming universe.

“There’s these … mass-market kinds of broad streaming services that are really trying to service everything in the home and think that’s the kind of cornerstone of the WarnerMedia-Discovery (type of company). And you’re really trying to service everyone in the home and they’re trying to get somewhere between 300 and 400 million subscribers worldwide,” he said. “That’s not Starz. That’s not how we were ever built. If you think about back to the old linear world, we were always sold on top of cable or satellite as a kind of cherry-on-top of broader services.”

Hirsch said that is still how Starz is positioned today.

“We sit in that premium tier above that mass tier where we are very focused on two core demos. We know who we are. We are really trying to put content on every week, 52 weeks a year, for our demos and not try to play that big acquisition game … so that we can service our customer every week,” he said.

STARZ

STARZ offers a subscription video streaming service that gives access to content on STARZ without the need of a cable subscription. With your subscription, you’ll get access to all of their current originals like Outlander, Vida, and Power.

With your subscription, you’ll also get access to their critically acclaimed catalog of previous shows, as well as past seasons of shows like “Friday Night Lights”, “The Bernie Mac Show”, “ALF”, and “Miami Vice” and “Knight Rider.”

STARZ also has new-release films from Sony Pictures, which appear on the streaming service 7-8 months after they are in theaters. Every month they also have hundreds of additional older movies from major movie studios.

You can subscribe for 8,99 US$ a month either directly from STARZ, or through Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, or Roku Premium Subscriptions.

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns chimed in regarding acquisition in the streaming landscape.

“We do expect to see more consolidation in the media space, that’s a given,” Burns said. “I think that there are going to be in the streaming space, many winners.”

Above the broad-based, mass-market streaming services and the premium content streaming service level that Starz feels it has carved out for itself, Hirsch said that there is what he calls a high-end niche-level service that specializes in catering to very specific bases of customers.

“You have the higher tier which is the niche services which are really more genre-based services. Those are much smaller, passionate bases of customers; Much smaller in terms of scale globally … So we feel really good about the position we are (in),” he said. “I think that Starz has now positioned itself as a really great complementary bundling partner to compete for market share for those mass services that you see developing right now.”

Just last week, Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television and Digital Distribution Jim Packer touted the company’s strength when it comes to providing AVOD content to companies like The Roku Channel and others.

“Our AVOD revenue — just in the U.S. in 2016, we had about 14 clients, and we were doing less than $10 million of revenue in that segment of my business. In 2021, we have close to 40 AVOD clients, and we’re going to do almost — well, I think we’re going to do over $100 million,” Packer said.

What’s responsible for the growth? For one thing, as he pointed out, the sheer number of buyers in the marketplace.

“I look at the amount of buyers on a title like Expendables, one of our better franchises,” Packer said. “In 2018, in an average year, we’d have 8 buyers. Now we have about 15 buyers. So the people that can afford something like Expendables because it’s not an inexpensive movie, has gone up.”

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