Starz CEO Hints at 8 Million OTT Subs as Service Expands into France, Italy, Spain

In deference to the burgeoning over-the-top video ecosystem, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer spent much of the Aug. 9 fiscal call plugging subsidiary Starz and its branded $8.99 SVOD platform.

Feltheimer said Starz, which Lionsgate acquired in 2016 for $4.4 billion, is “well-capitalized” to take advantage of the growing online TV market (i.e. DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Sling TV). The channel is slated to bow on Hulu Live TV in October.

“We’re bullish about overall [including pay-TV] subscriber growth for the rest of the year,” said Feltheimer.

On the call, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht suggested the OTT platform’s sub base could rival the 8 million associated with HBO Now – with the majority of Starz sub growth in the United Kingdom and Germany generated through Amazon Channels and, separately, as a result of a Hulu partnership in the United States.

“If you took our Amazon business and added in a potentially-like Hulu business, we’d be right up there [in subscribers],” Albrecht said. “We have a strong wholesale relationship … great price point, and we think it’s a really good product.”

Starz officially disclosed 2 million OTT subscribers in late 2017.

Starz (branded Starz Play outside the U.S.) features Lionsgate catalog movie and TV programming as well original series “Power,” “Outlander,” “American Gods” and “The Spanish Princess,” among others.

Starz co-owns Starz Play Arabia — the largest OTT video service in the Middle East, with Starz Play launches planned for France, Italy and Spain.

Responding to an analyst’s question about Lionsgate’s willingness to up Starz content spending, Feltheimer said the answer is “yes”.

“The plan is working as we spend more, as we market more effectively, we are getting excellent subscriber [growth] trajectories,” he said.


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