‘Power Book II: Ghost’ Season 4 Launch on Starz Attracts More Than 6.5 Million Premiere Week Viewers

Starz on June 18 announced that part one of the fourth season of its crime drama series  “Power Book II: Ghost” was watched by more than 6.5 million multiplatform viewers in its premiere week, making it one of the network’s biggest launches ever ever.

Season doue, part one also broke engagement records on the Starz app, with over 11% of premiere-day streams coming in the first hour after the episode debuted. On linear television, the “Power Book II: Ghost” season four premiere was the highest-rated cable program among Black households across the premiere week. Collectively, the “Power” Universe series have now amassed 1.5 billion hours watched globally to date.

“Power Book II: Ghost” is both a direct sequel and spin-off to “Power,” which aired on Starz from 2014 to 2020. Power tells the story of James St. Patrick, an intelligent, smooth yet ruthless drug dealer who goes by the alias of “Ghost.” He wants to leave the criminal world to pursue legitimate business interests as a nightclub owner, aiming to balance those two lives while also avoiding police capture, trying to navigate his crumbling marriage and managing shifting economic alliances.

“Power Book II: Ghost” follows Ghost’s son, Tariq, as he tries to shed his father’s legacy amid mounting pressure to save his family. He gets tangled up with the cutthroat Tejada family as he seeks to balance his drug operations with his education, love life, family affairs, and law enforcement scrutiny.

Season four of “Power Book II: Ghost” stars Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq St. Patrick, Mary J. Blige as Monet Tejada, Cliff “Method Man” Smith as Davis MacLean, Gianni Paolo as Brayden Weston, Woody McClain as Cane Tejada, Lovell Adams-Gray as Dru Tejada, LaToya Tonodeo as Diana Tejada, Alix Lapri as Effie Morales, Larenz Tate as Rashad Tate, Caroline Chikezie  as Noma, Lightskinkeisha as Brushaundria Carmichael and Michael Ealy as Detective Don Carter.

New episodes of “Power Book II: Ghost” premiere every Friday.

Starz Expands Distribution Team, Promotes Marketing Leaders

Starz on April 4 announced changes to the leadership team under Alison Hoffman, president of domestic networks, including the strategic expansion of its distribution team and the elevation of two key marketing leaders.

Brandt Haynes joins Starz as SVP of distribution, reporting to Sofia Chang, EVP and chief distribution officer. Hoffman recently hired Chang to oversee the streaming platform’s business with multichannel video and digital distributors.

Todd Hoy (Starz photo)

In addition to hiring Haynes, who is overseeing digital partner management as well as partner marketing and strategic planning, Chang appointed Todd Hoy as SVP of distribution, overseeing business development, distribution deal strategy, and traditional partner relations.

Hoffman also announced that Starz has elevated two of its top marketing leaders. Melissa Stankowski has been upped to SVP of brand and creative, leading brand marketing and creative services comprised of production, design and video teams. And Whitney Abeel has been elevated to SVP of originals and digital marketing, charged with overseeing the company’s original series marketing including strategy development, campaign creative, consumer activations, partnerships and social initiatives.

Stankowski and Abeel report to Jimmy Hilburn, Starz’s chief marketing officer.

“The strategic changes to our distribution team including Brandt and Todd in these key leadership roles will help us continue to solidify our position as the industry’s partner of choice,” Hoffman said in a press release. “And we’re thrilled to elevate Whitney and Melissa, who have consistently raised the bar in marketing our programming, and the Starz brand, with their bold vision and impeccable taste.”

Haynes brings over 20 years of industry experience to Starz. He most recently served as chief operating officer and head of transformation at Girl Scouts of the USA, where he was responsible for strategic transformation and operations. Prior to his nonprofit career, Haynes led digital subscription and transactional revenue generation in media at HBO, HBO Max, and Pushkin. Haynes is based in Starz’s New York office.

Hoy has held multiple executive roles at Starz, most recently heading all legal support in launching 13 region-specific versions of Starz across 37 countries over a two-year period and coordinating joint ventures and partnerships in 16 additional countries. Previously, Hoy had been the lead attorney overseeing Starz U.S. distribution, content acquisition, marketing and technology licensing. Hoy served as a core strategist in the launch of the Starz app and expansion into OTT distribution within the U.S. and globally.

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Stankowski joined Starz in 2021 as executive director of brand and was promoted to VP of creative services later that year. She spearheaded the Starz brand redesign across a vast 63-country footprint, including the rebranding of Starzplay to Lionsgate+. Before her tenure at Starz, Stankowski served as editor-in-chief at STIRR, a pioneer in the FAST industry, and held key positions at Sony Pictures Television, where she played a pivotal role in launching and developing Sony’s first domestic and digital networks (Sony Movie Channel, Cine Sony Television, getTV, Crackle) and subsequent brand refreshes. Stankowski began her career in television production with NFL Films.

Whitney Abeel (Starz photo)

Abeel has been with Starz for more than a decade, progressively expanding her scope of work since her hire as specialist with originals marketing and rising through the ranks to her current role. Abeel has launched and nurtured the success of such series and franchises as the worldwide hit series “Outlander,” the “Power Universe” franchise, “Gaslit,” and “P-Valley.” Before joining Starz, Abeel worked in the integrated marketing department at ABC. Abeel is based in Starz’s Santa Monica, Calif. office.

Amazon Adding Lionsgate, Starz Content to MGM+ Streaming Platform in the U.K.

Amazon’s Prime Video Channels has added access to Lionsgate and Starz content to the pending MGM+ (formerly Epix) streaming service availability in the United Kingdom. The deal mirrors similar distribution deals made between Prime Video Channels, Lionsgate+ and Starz throughout Europe and Latin America — upping the MGM+ footprint to 31 countries.

MGM+ in the United Kingdom will become the exclusive home to Starz series “Outlander,” “Power Book I-IV,” “BMF,” “The Serpent Queen,” “P-Valley,” and “Hightown.” Catalog shows include Lionsgate TV productions “The Great,” “Mad Men,” “Nashville” and “Weeds,” in addition to movies such as American PsychoReservoir Dogs and Saw, among others.

“The expansion of MGM+ in the U.K. further cements Amazon’s commitment to invest in and grow the MGM+ channel internationally, while enhancing the content offering available to subscribers,” Josh McIvor, global GM of MGM+, said in a statement.

Beginning this month, Lionsgate+ subscribers who joined via Prime Video Channels in the United Kingdom will get access to MGM+.

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“With the addition of the U.K., Lionsgate and Starz content will now be available to MGM+ viewers in more than 20 countries around the world,” added Agapy Kapouranis, president of international television and digital distribution for Lionsgate.

Chase Brisbin and Kathryn Ikenberry Jones negotiated the deal on behalf of Lionsgate.

Starz Hires Ex-WarnerMedia Executive Sofia Chang as Chief Distribution Officer

Longtime entertainment executive Sofia Chang has been hired as EVP and chief distribution officer at Starz. Based in New York and reporting to Alison Hoffman, president of domestic networks, Chang will oversee all of the streaming platform’s sales activities with multichannel video and digital distributors in the United States.

Sofia Chang

Chang brings 20 years of industry and leadership experience from her role as president of distribution at WarnerMedia, where she led distribution revenue for all HBO-branded digital and linear channels and navigated its subscriber and revenue growth, increased market share and improved profit margin. During her tenure at HBO, Chang was also responsible for overseeing content distribution and revenue in other formats.

“Sofia is a well-respected entertainment executive who brings a wealth of experience, along with a successful track record of driving growth in both the linear and digital space,” Hoffman said in a statement.

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Most recently, Chang served as the national CEO at Girl Scouts of the USA, where she led the enterprise across all functions including operations, technology, licensing and more. She was instrumental in reversing membership decline, reduced debt and developed a cultural framework founded on inclusivity.

Chang was one of Media Play News‘ top “captains” in the publication’s 2018 Women in Home Entertainment issue, when she was EVP, worldwide digital distribution and home entertainment, at HBO. In that capacity, she oversaw HBO’s transactional physical and digital business worldwide, as well as distribution of its domestic subscription product across digital platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Hulu, Roku, Sony and more.

Chang was recently honored by Forbes’ “50 Over 50: Impact” and the Goldhouse “A100” for her positive impact on cultural and social change. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts. She is also fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Lionsgate Files SEC Paperwork for Separation of Motion Picture/Television Production, Starz Businesses

Lionsgate July 12 announced the filing of paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection with its planned separation of its studio (motion picture/television production) business and Starz media company into two independent, publicly traded companies.

The split would result in Lionsgate’s studio segments and a substantial portion of its corporate general and administrative functions becoming an independent public company. The company’s media networks segment (Starz) would remain in the existing company.

“The filing of this Form 10 continues the process of planning for the separation of the studio and Starz businesses,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

The filing includes preliminary detailed information about the studio business, the Starz business and the pending separate companies.

“The prospect of separating Lionsgate and Starz into standalone companies … will allow each company to pursue its own distinct strategy, while offering investors the opportunity to own both a pure-play publicly-traded content studio and a premium subscription platform,” Feltheimer said.

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Lionsgate announced the timing of the future separation would remain subject to a number of factors, including ongoing and potential business opportunities as well as the condition of the financial markets. The separation itself remains contingent on final approval by Lionsgate’s board of directors as well as approval by shareholders and governmental authorities, including the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and other customary conditions.

‘Party Down’ Complete Series, Season 3 Available on Digital July 31

The complete series and season three of the sitcom “Party Down” arrive on digital July 31 from Lionsgate.

“Party Down” stars Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Primetime Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch (“Glee”), and Primetime Emmy Award winner Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”).
 
In the series, Scott, Lynch, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, and Ryan Hansen star as employees of Hollywood catering company Party Down, a group of struggling actors and dysfunctional dreamers waiting for their big breaks while stuck serving hors d’oeuvres. In a town where everything is possible, can the ultimate going-nowhere job ever get them anywhere?

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In season three, 10 years later, most of the Party Down catering team have moved on, including actor/bartender Henry Pollard. After a surprise reunion, the gang find themselves once again stoically enduring the procession of random parties and oddball guests all over Los Angeles.

‘Power Book II: Ghost’ Season 3 Premiere Sets Viewership Records, Starz Says

Starz on March 23 said “Power Book II: Ghost” season three set viewership records as the network’s biggest premiere weekend ever in its first three days.

Based on early reporting, the third season delivered 5.8 million multiplatform viewers following its premiere weekend, with several platforms yet to report. Season three of the hit series, which premiered on March 17, was also up approximately 30% from the season two debut in November 2021.

This season featured new twists, turns and murder as Tariq, Brayden and the Tejada family are grieving the death of Zeke, but they won’t get much time as a new set of problems and questions arise. Monet finds herself at a crossroads with her family, Brayden is forced to choose between his birth family and chosen family, and Tariq is leveling up this season.

The cast of “Ghost” season three includes Michael Rainey Jr. as Tariq St. Patrick, Mary J. Blige as Monet Stewart Tejada, Cliff “Method Man” Smith as Davis MacLean, Gianni Paolo as Brayden Weston, Woody McClain as Cane Tejada, Lovell Adams-Gray as Dru Tejada,” LaToya Tonodeo as “Diana Tejada,” Berto Colon as “Lorenzo Tejada, Alix Lapri as Effie Morales, Larenz Tate as Rashad Tate, Shane Johnson as Cooper Saxe, Paton Ashbrook as Jenny Sullivan, Monique Curnen as Detective Blanca Rodriguez, Keesha Sharp as Professor Harper Bennet, David Walton as Lucas Weston, Moriah Brown as KeKe Travis, Luna Lauren Velez as Evelyn Castillo, Caroline Chikezie as Noma and Lightskinkeisha as Brushaundria Carmichael.

“Power Book II: Ghost” is the first series in the expanded “Power” Universe franchise. Brett Mahoney serves as showrunner and executive producer for season two. The “Power” Universe series is executive produced by the creator and showrunner of the original “Power,” Courtney A. Kemp, through her production company End of Episode, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson through G-Unit Film and Television, and Mark Canton through Atmosphere Entertainment MM. Lionsgate Television produces the series for Starz.

 

Starz Teams With Amazon to Bundle MGM+ on Prime Video

Starz Feb. 17 announced it has teamed up with Amazon to bundle MGM+ on Prime Video.

This subscription bundle, which launches in the coming weeks in the United States only, will cost $11.99 per month — 20% less than the combined price of both standalone subscriptions.

“We are excited to join forces with Amazon to offer Starz together with MGM+ to their millions of customers on Prime Video,” said Alison Hoffman, president of domestic networks at Starz. “Starz is a complementary service to general entertainment offerings, so we’re thrilled to see that bundling is now here and believe there will be many more bundling opportunities to come.”

Subscribers will have access to Starz series such as “Outlander,” the “Power” Universe, “P-Valley” and upcoming new seasons of “Party Down” and “Blindspotting.” Also accessible are flagship domestic Starz services including Starz Encore, 17 premium pay-TV channels and the associated on-demand and online services.

MGM+ is a destination for original premium content, with original series including the Emmy-winning series “Godfather of Harlem”; the sci-fi horror series “From”; the Western adventure “Billy the Kid”; and cinematic dramatic series “A Spy Among Friends,” “War of the Worlds,” “Rogue Heroes” and “Belgravia.”

The network is also the home of acclaimed docuseries, including Emmy-nominated “Laurel Canyon,” “Murf the Surf,” “Helter Skelter,” “Slow Burn,” “My Life as a Rolling Stone,” “NFL Icons” and “Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horror.” Premium movies are also available, including blockbusters such as Top Gun: Maverick; MGM hits No Time to Die and House of Gucci; and classic franchises such as “James Bond” and “Rocky.”

 

Starz Developing New Series Expanding on ‘Spartacus’

Starz Feb. 9 announced it is in development on a series that will expand on its show “Spartacus,” which aired for four seasons on the platform.

The new show will explore uncharted territory and new journeys of the original series’ iconic characters. “Spartacus” creator, writer and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight (“Daredevil,” Pacific Rim: Uprising) will serve as showrunner and executive producer. 

In the aftermath of the defeat of Spartacus and his rebel army, the drama will depict a new tale of treachery, deceit and blood unfolding beneath the foreboding shadow of Rome.

“It has been over a decade since ‘Spartacus’ delighted international audiences and we are thrilled to reimagine and expand this gripping, action-packed drama for our viewers today,” Kathryn Busby, president of original programming at Starz, said in a statement. “‘Spartacus’ has deeply invested fans who are eager for its return, and we look forward to working with Steven on this exciting next chapter.”

“It’s such an incredible honor to be invited to return to the world of ‘Spartacus’ and to be met with unbridled creative support from my colleagues at Starz and Lionsgate,” DeKnight said in a statement. “Together we are crafting something truly unique and unusual for the next chapter in this epic story.”

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“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” debuted on Starz in 2010 and was followed by a prequel series chapter “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” in 2011 and two additional series “Spartacus: Vengeance” in 2012 and “Spartacus: War of the Damned” in 2013. 

The project will be produced by Lionsgate Television for Starz. EVP of original programming Karen Bailey and directors of original programming Giovanna Desselle and Alex Alberts will oversee the series on behalf of Starz. Head of scripted development and EVP Scott Herbst and SVP of scripted development Jocelyn Sabo will both oversee for Lionsgate Television.

Lionsgate+ Expands European SVOD Access Through Samsung Smart-TV Deal

Six years after the Starz premium channel became available on Samsung smart-televisions in Europe, Starz Jan. 31 is making the newly rebranded Lionsgate+ (formerly Starzplay) streaming platform available on Samsung’s Tizen-powered OS platform TVs in select European countries.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

Samsung TV owners will be able to subscribe to Lionsgate+ directly on their screens, unlocking access to programs including “Gaslit,” “Power,” “The Great,” “Outlander,” “The Serpent Queen,” “Party Down” and Spanish-language “Senorita 89,” among others.

“We are continuing to build on Lionsgate+’s presence across Latin America, the U.K. and Ireland and offer consumers a range of touch points in market,” Darren Nielson, EVP of international networks for Starz, said in a statement. “Samsung’s global reach and premium devices make them an ideal partner for us as we grow in these regions.”

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