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Starz Upbeat on Amazon Streaming, Distribution Returns to Profitability

25 Feb, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Starz LLC Feb. 25 hailed as “encouraging” the early response to offering original programming to Amazon Prime members. Launched in December, Amazon’s “Streaming Partners Program” affords third-party subscription streaming services access to Prime’s domestic members for a supplemental fee — which in the case of Starz is $8.99 a month.

Starz’s inclusion in Prime marked the pay-TV channel’s first foray as standalone domestic SVOD service. Speaking on the company's fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2015) fiscal call, CEO Chris Albrecht said Starz is now talking with additional non-traditional (i.e. online-based) distributors.

As a result, Starz is readying an app that will combine all of its assets, including Starz, Encore and MoviePlex, and enable it to distribute content on non-linear distribution platforms.

“These changes in distribution are helping feed a growing consumer appetite and demand for content,” Albrecht said. “We must take advantage of new distribution opportunities that are now the new reality of the TV ecosystem.”

Starz Distribution, which includes Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, increased revenue $32 million (17%) to $100.1 million, with operating income increasing to $7.9 million from a loss of $2 million in the previous-year period.

Starz's success came primarily as a result of international distribution of original series releases, including "Black Sails," "Ash vs. Evil Dead" and "Flesh and Bone," and new home entertainment releases from The Weinstein Company, including Southpaw and No Escape.

In 2015, the unit generated $163.4 million in home video revenue, down about 17% from revenue of $196.4 million in 2014. 

Starz’s flagship pay-TV channel added 300,000 subs in Q4 and ended 2015 with a record 23.6 million. Last year, Starz Play Arabia launched in 17 countries.

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