Original programming, new pacts boost income

John Malone’s Liberty Media on Thursday reported higher revenue and earnings from Starz, its biggest holding.

The pay net’s sales rose 8% to $432 million for the fourth quarter, largely on higher home video revenue from a 2011 distribution agreement with the Weinstein Co.

Operating profit rose 24% to $87 million. The network had 19.6 million subscribers at year’s end, up from 18.2 million the year before.

CEO Chris Albrecht touted original programming and new pacts. “We could not be more pleased with the performance of ‘Spartacus: Vengeance,’ which continues to set record new viewership marks for a Starz original series,” he said. “The anticipation for April’s ‘Magic City’ is growing, and we are heartened by the strong demand received in the global marketplace.”

He said recent deals, affiliation with AT&T U-verse and movie licensing with Lionsgate have strengthened the net’s distribution business and long-term content pipeline.

Parent Liberty Media said its quarterly revenue surged 96% to $1 billion in the fourth quarter and operating income jumped 241% to $293 million, mostly related to the one-time recognition of previously deferred revenue and costs at division TruePosition.

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