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Entertainment Starz CEO Jeff Hirsch On First Window Economics And Why The Service Shifted From Sony To Lionsgate

01:30  13 may  2021
01:30  13 may  2021 Source:   deadline.com

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UPDATED: Starz CEO Jeff Hirsch said “mid-budget films play better on our service than anything else,” as per the exclusive first - window output deal for Lionsgate and Summit films announced this morning. “Movies are important to our service . Big box office movies drive a lot of acquisitions and An A-tier service – the usual suspects – would bank between 200 to 300 million subscribers, he said. The B-tier would come in at 20% to 40% of that (so anywhere from 40 to 120 million subs). Starz cable and streaming assets stood at about 27 million when it announced its latest earnings in February, over

Would you like some Starz with your Netflix? It's an impossible pairing today because the world's leading streaming service doesn't enable its subscribers to sign up for additional streaming services , but there's going to be some interesting combinations coming to the OTT world, predicts Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch . Listen to this week’s podcast below: It’s the kind of arrangement Hirsch , who clarified he was speculating and not revealing actual Netflix business plans, is already seeing bear fruit for Starz : The streaming service is available as an add-on Disney Plus subscribers since its launch.

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Starz CEO Jeff Hirsch said 50% of the movies in its sunsetting first window deal with Sony did less than $10 million at the box office, a reason it moved to a new agreement with sister company Lionsgate/Summit, whose pictures are fewer but resonate more with the Starz audience.

“Other than three movies [he mentioned Spider-Man, Venom and Jumani] they were not resounding with our viewers,” he said during a Q&A at a virtual media conference hosted by MoffettNathanson Research.

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“If you take those out, none of the other movies were in the top ten” on the service.

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Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch said his top challenge for the next year was to explain why he's purposefully not trying to compete with Netflix, Amazon and the biggest media companies competing for your streaming budget. While many investors have written off Lionsgate , the parent company of Starz , for being too small in a land of media giants, Hirsch says Starz is purposefully staying focused to capture an underserved audience while the others "bang each other over the head." And while he won't speculate on M&A, he says Starz is "very, very valuable to any of these big folks that are trying to get

Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch has outlined the local originals strategy for Starzplay, revealing that a slate of shows are being planned out of the Middle East and India as the business looks to complement its U.S. and English-language pipeline of content. Speaking at the Berlinale Series Market and Hirsch maintains that the service is “not trying to be everything to everyone” such as a larger AVOD or SVOD platform. “We are not trying to be Netflix or Peacock; we’re not trying to be basic streaming, which is kids content, sports, news and weather. We are very bespoke and tailored in terms of adult, heavy

“Based on our consumer data … on a title by title basis, we didn’t think the value was there to pay for that pay one [window]. When we looked at the 13 or 15 titles we were getting from Lionsgate, they were more impactful to our base.”

In March, Starz closed a multiyear, exclusive first window output deal for all theatrically released Lionsgate and Summit label films when current agreements expire at the end of 2021 and the end of 2022. It includes franchises John Wick as well as Borderlands, White Bird: A Wonder Story, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds & Snake and future installments of the Saw franchise.

That replaced a deal with Sony that dated back to 2005. (A month later, in April) Sony set a new licensing deal with Netflix for theatrical titles starting in 2022.

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Starz chief operating officer Jeffrey Hirsch has signed a renewed agreement that will keep him at the network until December, 2020. “We are pleased to extend Jeff ’s tenure as COO of Starz , providing the company with great continuity as we continue our drive to be a powerhouse global content provider,” said Starz president and CEO

Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch has outlined the local originals strategy for Starzplay, revealing that a slate of shows are being planned out of the Middle East and India as the business looks to complement its U.S. and English-language pipeline of content. Speaking at the Berlinale Series Market and Conference on “We have local production in India right now, as well as (Middle East service ) Starzplay Arabia,” he said, adding that three to four originals will launch for Starz Arabia, while Spanish originals are also on the way. Hirsch , who was appointed CEO in September following the departure of Chris Albrecht

Netflix is broader service with different needs, Hirsch said.

He noted that Starz still has Disney on the second window – so Frozen is still going great guns on the service —  and Sony in the second and third windows.

He also reiterated that original series are key to growing the service over time.

Hirsch is positioning Starz as a “B-tier” DTC platform focused on adults led by Black women, without sports news or kids’ fare, and expanding globally.

Asked if the economics of first window deals are changing along with windows, he said it’s too early to tell. “I think that has yet to be determined. It depends on how long the PVOD window is… Obviously, the closer to box office, the more economic value there is to us.”

“I think there will be mechanisms in all these deals … sooner or later … that actually change the economics based on delivery.”

He said Starz is not looking to launch an ad-supported platform as many streamers are doing. “It’s not a model we are that interested in. By adding an ad tier, you have to have the scale to compete for digital dollars with everyone else” — not just rival streaming services but Facebook and  Google.

And asked if he anticipates a wave of M&A among streamers in an increasingly crowded market, he said he sees commercial agreements with bundled services coming on first. “The more things change, the more things stay the same, and we think we can be that complementary bundling partner.”

“It’s the next phase of evolution, more commercial arrangements than consolidation. We are in this phase right now where people are in the launch phase and people are trying to figure out where they are and what they’re good at … Then after that, who knows what will happen.”

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