Starz Starts Standalone Streaming Service

Premium Cable Net Follows HBO, Showtime Into Over-the-Top

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Starz is joining the small but growing crowd of networks making themselves directly available to consumers, whether or not they have cable to satellite subscriptions.
Starz is joining the small but growing crowd of networks making themselves directly available to consumers, whether or not they have cable to satellite subscriptions. Credit: Courtesy Starz

Starz on Tuesday announced it has followed its premium cable rivals HBO and Showtime into the thicket of over-the-top video, creating a new standalone app that will let subscribers stream and download its original series and library content for $8.99 per month.

At the start, the Starz OTT service will be available via the Apple App Store and Google Play. Subscribers who download the app to their iOS and/or Android devices will have access to Starz's lineup of original series, including "Outlander," "Power," "Flesh and Bone" and "Ash vs. the Evil Dead," as well as a library of some 850 movies. (One of the film titles is a doozy; under an existing deal with Disney, Starz has first dibs on the TV rights to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens.")

The Starz OTT service will also be available to legacy subscribers as an authenticated TV Everywhere offering.

The sticker price and the option to download titles make Starz an attractive proposition for broadband subscribers who have yet to sample the channel's wares. The Starz OTT product is $6 cheaper than HBO Now and $2 below the monthly rate for Showtime's streaming service.

As an extra incentive, Starz will make the season two premiere of "Outlander" available for streaming on Thursday -- two days before the show's April 9 linear bow.

HBO introduced its OTT service a year ago, and Showtime followed suit last summer. (While Showtime has not disclosed its subscriber count, HBO said it has signed up some 800,000 HBO Now customers.) Starz first dipped a toe in the unbundled waters in December, when Amazon Prime added it as an a la carte option.

"Starz has entered the market today with an enormous value proposition for consumers," said CEO Chris Albrecht, in a statement released this morning. "Our programing will now be more widely available to the 20 million broadband-only homes of cord nevers, cord cutters and cord shavers, including Millennials and other underserved consumers who need other viable subscription service options."

In February, Mr. Albrecht told investors that Starz was "really jazzed" about its impending app, which had been in the planning stages for more than a year. Speaking during the company's fourth quarter earnings call, the executive said the OTT service would "open up a whole new world for us, because unlike our relationship with Amazon, where it's their environment that we are putting the Starz product into, this is an environment that's been created by Starz for Starz subscribers, and that experience is one that we curate and we control."

After adding 300,000 new customers in the fourth quarter of 2015, Starz closed out the year with a record 23.6 million subscribers. Total-year revenue at the networks division was $1.32 billion, up 1% versus the 2014 tally.

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