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Starz Promotes COO Jeffrey Hirsch to CEO, As Premium Channel Focuses on Streaming, International, & Female Audiences

Stephanie Sengwe

Following the exit of Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in February, all signs were pointing to COO Jeffrey Hirsch taking over the network. Now, the Lionsgate-owned service has been it official as he has been named President & CEO.

“Jeff continues to lead Starz’s transformation into one of the world’s premier subscription platforms,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. “He has a clear strategic vision, great understanding of where our business is headed and strong relationships that will all contribute to Starz’s continued strong growth and evolution.”

Hirsch will oversee the entire business and programming strategy, in an effort to grow the service internationally and to streamers. They have shifted their programming strategy in recent years to have more of a focus on female audiences. In an interview last month Hirsch said, “We think that Starz, with our focus on female (audiences), coupled with Disney Plus for kids, is a great combination for the home.”

Their OTT service has more than four million subscribers, but “over the next two to three years, we think we’ll double that number,” Hirsch exclaimed in the same interview.

Starz believes there is still room to grow internationally. “Starz went from being a domestic-only platform to being available in 50 countries in just over a year.” Starz has also taken measures to expand its international audiences, reaching audiences in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

Hirsch has previously asserted that Netflix has everyone convinced on a false narrative regarding the amount of money you have to spend in order to compete in the streaming space. He told the audience at the TCA summer press tour last month, “Netflix has done a phenomenal job of convincing everybody in this room and everybody on Wall Street that unless you spend $13 billion (on programming), you can’t compete, and you should take your ball and go home. And that’s just not the case.”

Instead, Hirsch believes that there is room for multiple services in each home and that Starz, with its focus on female audiences, is just as good a competitor as any.“

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