You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Starz Touts Originals Strategy at Speedy Shareholder Meet

Newly independent pay company is 'unusual animal,' chairman admits

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht is laser-focused on revving up original programming now that the pay cable group is a solo public company.

Albrecht talked up the company’s plan to expand the breadth of its series offering on Thursday during Starz’s inaugural shareholders meeting, which proved a breezy affair that lasted barely a half-hour with less than 30 people in attendance (including eight board members) at the Beverly Hilton. The eight items up for shareholder vote passed without a peep from the attendees, including the approval of proposals to have shareholders vote every three years in an advisory capacity on executive compensation packages.

But Gregory Maffei, Starz chairman who is also prexy-CEO of its former parent company, Liberty Media, acknowledged the elephant in the room, with prodding from a shareholder question. Starz has been seen as an acquisition target for a larger media company ever since it was spun off in January from Liberty — a move that was seen as Liberty’s way of putting a “For Sale” sign on the company.

“An independent pay service is a relatively unusual animal,” Maffei said in response to a shareholder question about whether Starz needed a partner. Maffei noted that there could be “synergies in programming, bundling and marketing” for Starz and a larger company. “We recognize those as facts in the marketplace,” he added, averring on the question of whether there are any such discussions under way for Starz.

So far, the biggest media congloms have shied away from stirring acquisition chatter about Starz. But the company got an important vote of confidence late last month when Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed it has amassed a 5% stake in Starz. (One attendee at the shareholders meeting sported a Berskshire Hathaway baseball cap, but it was not clear if he was affiliated with the Oracle of Omaha.)

Albrecht in the brief Q&A that closed out the sesh emphasized that the reaction from investors and the biz to a independent Starz has been “positive.” Since January, Starz’s stock is up 60%, closing Thursday at $21.89.

Going forward, Albrecht said that there will be a lot more effort expended on “ramping up original programming, especially after the decision we made to let the Disney content go” and expanding into new genres. Starz’s loss of Disney film titles in 2017 has raised questions about its long-term future as pay TV outlet, though Albrecht once again emphasized that Starz opted not to renew its Disney pact, which went to Netflix.

Albrecht touted the promise of the cabler’s latest drama series, “Da Vinci’s Demons” (pictured above), which has been renewed for a second season. With multiple plays across the week on Starz’s various networks and VOD platforms, plus DVR viewing, the aggregate aud has been significant. ” ‘Da Vinci’ is a very nice story for Starz,” Albrecht said.

Upcoming series for the cabler in 2014 include fantasy drama “The White Queen” and the Michael Bay-produced pirate drama “Black Sails.”

More TV

  • BBC Orders Spoof Talk Show Fronted

    Spoof Talk Show Fronted by an Animated Vladimir Putin Coming to the BBC

    The BBC will air a spoof talk-show fronted by an animated Vladimir Putin. The U.K. pubcaster has ordered two pilot episodes of “Tonight with Vladimir Putin,” a semi-scripted talk show hosted by a CGI representation of the Russian leader. The first guest will be Alistair Campbell, a former high-ranking political spin doctor in the U.K. [...]

  • Upcoming Fantasy Shows Like 'Game of

    10 Upcoming Shows to Watch if You're Mourning 'Game of Thrones'

    Millions of people’s Sunday night routines are ruined now that “Game of Thrones” is over, and there are holes in their hearts as big as the hole in The Wall that are aching for a new fantasy series to fill them. Several prequel series are on their way, but as there’s no word on just [...]

  • Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi

    'Game of Thrones' Composer Ramin Djawadi: 'I'm Still in Denial'

    Since the first season, Ramin Djawadi has composed the music for “Game of Thrones” and created the epic tunes, including the iconic theme song, heard over the series’ most memorable moments. With the series finished, he talked with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 about his experience on the show and an upcoming 20-city [...]

  • TUPAC SHAKUR black panther collection

    ‘Defiant Ones’ Director to Helm Docuseries on Tupac, Who Assaulted Him in 1993

    Director Allen Hughes, who helmed the award-winning HBO documentary “The Defiant Ones,” has closed a deal with Tupac Shakur’s estate for a five-part docuseries for which he will have full access to all of the late rapper’s released and unreleased recordings, writings and poetry, according to an announcement from his rep. The announcement says the [...]

  • Ellen DeGeneres -- The Ellen Show

    Ellen DeGeneres Extends Daytime Talk Show Run Through 2022

    Ellen DeGeneres is sticking with her daytime talk show. DeGeneres announced Tuesday that she has signed a new deal to continue hosting “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” through 2022. There had been rumors for some time that DeGeneres was planning to leave the show when her current contract was up in 2020, something she leaned into [...]

  • How YouTube Is Trying to Get

    How YouTube Is Trying to Get Will Smith His First-Ever Emmy Nomination (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube could be the key to Will Smith finally earning a Primetime Emmy nomination — or win. The superstar Formerly Known as the Fresh Prince has been nominated for two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and one Screen Actors Guild Award, and has won four Grammys (out of eight nominations). Yet a Primetime Emmy nomination [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content