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.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“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.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Starz Snags Seasons 1 & 2 of Comedy Series ‘Minx’

Starz Jan.  12 announced it has picked up seasons one and two of the critically acclaimed comedy series “Minx,” one of the victims of HBO Max’s late-2022 content slashing. Starz will exclusively premiere the second season of the show, which is set in 1970s Los Angeles. 

Ellen Rapoport, “Minx” creator, showrunner and executive producer, said in a statement, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the Starz family, and for the opportunity to introduce ‘Minx’ to a brand-new audience.  We’ve found the perfect home. Our writers, cast and crew have created something truly special in season two, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

“We have always felt this show would be a perfect fit for our brand with our dedication to narratives by, about and for women,” Jeffrey Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, said in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome Ellen and the talented ‘Minx’ team to the network and can’t wait to bring its passionate fans the second season.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Minx” centers on Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), an earnest young feminist who joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson) to create the first erotic magazine for women. The cast also includes Idara Victor, Jessica Lowe, Lennon Parham, Michael Angarano and Oscar Montoya. As previously announced, Elizabeth Perkins joined in season two as recurring character Constance. 

“Minx” was created by Rapoport alongside Paul Feig and Dan Magnante for Feigco Entertainment, Ben Karlin and Rachel Lee Goldenberg, who also directed the pilot. Jake Johnson serves as a co-executive producer. “Minx” is produced by Lionsgate Television.

Starz Promotes Darren Nielson to EVP, International Networks

Darren Nielson has been promoted to EVP of international networks at Starz, taking over for Superna Kalle.

Darren Nielson

In his new role, Nielson reports directly to Starz president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch. He will oversee the international division’s growth for its newly rebranded international service Lionsgate+, including P&L responsibility and all aspects of programming, distribution, marketing and publicity in the U.K., Latin America and Brazil, Canada, and Australia. He will also have oversight of Lionsgate+ original series.

Nielson joined the company in 2018 as  international distribution and business development for the Starz-branded digital and linear services and channels, working closely with Kalle to develop expansion strategies, identify and evaluate partner opportunities, and source and negotiate distribution agreements with in-territory partners.

“Darren has been instrumental in building our international business working with Superna since joining the company in 2018,” Hirsch said. “He has a deep knowledge of the global streaming landscape and is a respected strategic executive. We look forward to maximizing growth and profitability of our international markets under his leadership.”

He added that Kalle “did a great job in rapidly scaling an international service from the ground up, forming many new distribution partnerships and building a robust slate of international original series. We are grateful for her leadership and dedication to the company and wish her continued success.”  

Prior to joining Starz, Nielson served as director of content acquisition at Netflix, helping grow the service from a domestic DVD business into a global leader in streaming video. Nielson was instrumental in launching and building Netflix across Europe and Asia and managed global licensing relationships with major studios and local partners across both film and TV series.

Prior to Netflix, Nielson held business development positions at Sony Pictures Television and Ascent Media.

Starz Hires Two, Promotes One on Domestic Leadership Team

Starz Dec. 8 announced changes to the domestic leadership team under Alison Hoffman, president, domestic networks, with two hires and a promotion.

Jimmy Hilburn joins as chief marketing officer, and Susan Ievoli joins as SVP of publicity, events and awards, reporting to Hilburn.

Robin Chacko has been upped to EVP of direct-to-consumer from SVP of OTT marketing, and will continue to report to Hoffman.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jimmy and Susan to the Starz team and elevate Robin’s oversight in a key area of the business,” Hoffman said in a statement. “These best-in-class executives are creative disruptors who are as strategic and analytical as they are innovative. They will further amplify the company’s momentum as we continue to grow our subscriber base and develop premium campaigns in support of our robust slate.”

Ievoli takes over for Jennifer Minezaki-Washington who was promoted in March 2021 to EVP of corporate and brand communications, reporting to Jeffrey Hirsch, president and CEO at Starz.

Jimmy Hilburn (Photo by Leigh Keily)

As chief marketing officer, veteran marketing executive Hilburn is charged with overseeing all teams across marketing, media, publicity and creative. Before joining Starz, Hilburn was director of marketing at Netflix where he led original series launches for “Bridgerton,” “Ozark,” “Narcos,” “House of Cards” and “Dear White People,” among others. In addition, he helped establish the company’s stand-up comedy brand “Netflix Is a Joke” and built creative teams across the globe to support Netflix’s slate of international originals. Before that, Hilburn served as director of marketing at AMC where he launched the network’s inaugural slate of original programming, including “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

Susan Ievoli

In her role overseeing Starz’s publicity, events and awards team, Ievoli leads the streaming platform’s programming publicity and awards campaigns and strategy. She is also responsible for the company’s events and talent relations. Most recently, Ievoli served as SVP of public relations and social media for The History Channel, where she oversaw publicity and social media and led the network’s trade and consumer communications, awards, and talent relations. Ievoli joined A+E Networks as director of publicity, where she was integral in launching History’s first scripted programming slate and spearheaded the awards and press campaigns for the Emmy award-winning limited series “Hatfields & McCoys.” She has also led campaigns for the critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated limited series “Roots” and the hit drama series “Vikings.” Prior to that, she was a publicity executive at Turner Broadcasting overseeing publicity campaigns at TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies and truTV for hit programming such as “The Closer,” “Southland” and “Conan.” Ievoli is based in New York City.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Robin Chacko

Chacko joined Starz in 2017 as SVP of growth marketing and product management. In 2018, Chacko was named by Variety as one of Hollywood’s New Leaders in Digital. In his newly elevated role, Chacko leads growth marketing, product management and subscriber operations for the family of Starz apps on mobile, streaming boxes, game consoles, smart TVs and the Web. Prior to joining Starz, Chacko led product management and CRM for Jam City, and before that led group operations for Tetris Hasbro and Pogo Studio at gaming giant Electronic Arts and served as head of game analytics for EA Mobile. Through his work across Jam City and EA, Chacko has helped launch and manage live services for more than 30 video games.

Lionsgate Exits International Streaming Business in Select Markets, Takes $218.9 Million Restructuring Charge

Lionsgate Nov. 3 revealed it is exiting the Lionsgate+ (formerly Starzplay International) branded international streaming business in select markets, which include operations in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux, the Nordics and Japan. The move resulted in a $218.9 million restructuring charge in the second quarter (ended Sept. 30), primarily driven by content impairment write-downs in the affected territories.

The company also recorded $1.48 billion non-cash impairment charge related to goodwill from the Starz acquisition in 2016. The digital platform, which Lionsgate paid $4.4 billion for, continues to be part of the media company’s digital strategy, including possible spin-offs of the Starz and studio business to third parties.

Lionsgate+ reported an operating loss of $44 million on revenue of $38.6 million. Starz Networks reported operating income of $65 million on revenue of $396.1 million. That’s up from operating income of $52 million on revenue of $384.7 million during the previous-year period.

The company’s global subscriber base increased to 37.8 million in Q2, including StarzPlay Arabia, a non-consolidated equity method investee, driven by growth in both international and domestic streaming subscribers. Global streaming subscribers increased 52% year-over-year to 27.3 million. Lionsgate+ subscribers grew 97% year-over-year to 14.8 million (including Lionsgate Play in India & South Asia).

“Economic and industry headwinds are having the greatest impact at Starz, where we are exiting seven international territories,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement. “This will allow us to streamline Starz international business and return it to profitability more quickly, while continuing to build on the opportunities created by a strong original series slate and focused content strategy domestically.”

Lionsgate+ SVOD Joins Sky Satellite TV Platforms Across Europe

Lionsgate+, the rebranded Starzplay subscription streaming video service, Oct. 25 announced it has joined the Comcast-owned Sky satellite TV platform, including Sky Q, Sky Stream and Sky Glass in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and Germany — priced at £5.99/€4.99 ($6.85) monthly.

Lionsgate+ original content includes texting/suicide criminal case “The Girl from Plainville,” gender-bending “The Great,” political thriller “Gaslit,” period dramas, “Outlander,” “The Serpent Queen” and pending “Dangerous Liaisons,” in addition to movies and catalog fare.

“Partnering with Sky, Europe’s premium content provider, is a key strategy in strengthening Lionsgate+’s presence in Europe and will give even more subscribers access to our massive offering of curated content,” Superna Kalle, president, international networks at Starz, said in a statement. “We look forward to strengthening our relationship with viewers through Sky who share our commitment to delivering audiences exceptional content paired with a premium user experience.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Vizio Adds Starz Streaming App to Smart TVs

Vizio Aug. 8 announced that the Starz app is now available on Vizio Smart TVs. Subscribers can now access original series and a library of on-demand movies, including drama, comedy, western, and family, sci-fi, action and documentaries, among others. Starz original series “Power,” “Outlander” and “P-Valley,” as well as box office hits Spider-Man: No Way Home, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Thor: The Dark World, among others.

“The addition of Starz marks another significant advancement in our commitment to provide our users with access to the programming they love and endless entertainment options for millions of users who begin their entertainment journey with Vizio,” Katherine Pond, group VP of platform content and partnerships at Vizio, said in a statement.

Lionsgate-owned Starz joins an extensive list of streaming services already available on Vizio, including Apple TV+, BET+, Discovery+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock, and Amazon Prime Video. Vizio Smart TVs also include support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet, or laptop directly onto the big screen.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“From our robust slate of original series dedicated to amplifying narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences, and our library that features some of the biggest movies, Starz is delighted to bring our award-winning programming to the Vizio platform,” added Alison Hoffman, president of domestic networks at Starz.

CEO: Lionsgate Looking to Complete Starz Spin-Off in Next 12 Months

Lionsgate is looking to announce plans to spin-off multiplatform subsidiary Starz by this summer, including finalizing a deal a year from now, CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a media conference call.

The studio/distributor has made no secret its desire to mine incremental value for Starz, which it acquired for $4.4 billion in 2016. The pay-TV/SVOD platform ended the fiscal year 2022 (ended March 31) with 35.8 million subscribers, including StarzPlay Arabia, a non-consolidated equity method investee, driven by strong international and domestic streaming subscriber growth. Global streaming subscribers increased 47% year-over-year to 24.5 million. StarzPlay International subscribers grew 88% year-over-year to 12.8 million.

“We are targeting an announcement of our plan by the end of the summer and expect a transaction by the end of the fiscal fourth quarter,” Feltheimer said. “Although streaming is not an end in itself, it is a very efficient way to bring content to our customers world.”