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Lionsgate: Starz Streaming Approaching 20 Million Subscribers

Lionsgate Feb. 3 announced that its Starz-branded subscription streaming services ended the third quarter (Dec. 31, 2021) with a combined 19.7 million subscribers worldwide. That’s up more than 44% from 13.7 million during the previous-year period.

Speaking on the fiscal call, CEO Jon Feltheimer said Starz, which includes StarzPlay International and StarzPlay Arabia, remains “solidly on track” to reach its target of 50 million to 60 million global subscribers by 2025.

The platform’s original and licensed (to third-party) content includes “Outlander,” “Droughtlander,” “Power,” “Power Book IV: Force,” “Ghost,” “Shining Vale” with Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear, Sherilyn Fenn and Mira Sorvino; “Gaslit,” and a second season of “P-Valley,” among others.

“We’re relying on a combination of hyper-focused programming, early mover advantage and our ability to complement as well as compete with other platforms,” Feltheimer said.

Lionsgate continues to up Starz’s profile as it explores options on either selling or spinning-off the property. Co-chairman Michael Burns said the company would be providing updates on the process “at the appropriate time.”

Separately, motion picture revenue increased $25 million in the current quarter due to increased television revenue and theatrical revenue, partially offset by lower home entertainment revenue due to fewer releases in the current quarter.

Theatrical revenue increased $3.9 million due to an increase of $3.6 million from the company’s feature film category, which included seven days of revenue from the Dec. 25, 2021, release of American Underdog, the biopic about former Rams QB Kurt Warner. In the prior year’s quarter, theaters were mostly closed due to circumstances associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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Television Production revenue increased $210.4 million due to increased intersegment revenues from the licensing of Starz original series, and a greater number of television episodes delivered to third parties, as compared to the prior year’s quarter.

The current quarter six new and seven renewed Lionsgate television shows were picked up by third-party platforms. The company has five series streaming on HBO Max; a new series at ABC and Fox; the recent pickup of the Lincoln assassination series, “Manhunt,” following the two-season renewal of “Mythic Quest” at Apple+; and a series order for “Swimming With Sharks” for The Roku Channel after a successful airing of Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas.

The increases in television production and motion picture revenue were largely offset by increased intersegment eliminations, primarily associated with higher television production revenue (a substantial portion of intersegment eliminations relates) for licenses of original series to Starz Networks and StarzPlay International, both in the media networks segment.

Overall, Netflix lost $45.6 million on revenue of $885.4 million. That compared with revenue of $836.4 in the previous-year period. Through nine months of the fiscal year, revenue is up 12.5% to $2.7 billion.

“Our television group achieved a banner performance in the quarter in new series pickups and current series renewals, our library continued to generate strong high-margin revenue, and our motion picture group assembled a great pipeline of branded intellectual properties,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement. “Though COVID-related production delays resulted in diminished subscriber growth relative to our expectations in the first half of the year, putting pressure on revenue and segment profit in the current quarter, Starz’s programming is back on track and expected to translate into continued subscriber growth going forward.”

Revenue from Lionsgate’s 17,000-title film and television library was $771 million for the trailing 12 months.

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