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Lionsgate Teams With Amazon on Starz’s Expansion in Europe

In a key expansion move, Lionsgate is teaming with Amazon to expand its Starz network in Europe through its Starzplay channels in Germany and the U.K.

Lionsgate made the announcement Thursday as part of its earnings report for its fiscal year ended March 31 at the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Lionsgate chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer made the announcement.

“Our strong quarter capped a successful year in which we exceeded our internal and consensus financial expectations with significant contributions across our film, television, and Starz platforms,” he said. “We enter fiscal 2019 well positioned to continue growing our worldwide content platform, deepening our key talent relationships, and rolling out Starz as a truly global consumer brand. Today I’m pleased to announce that we’ve taken a major step forward in this initiative by launching Starzplay branded channels in the U.K. and Germany on Amazon Prime Video.”

Feltheimer told analysts during the earnings call Thursday that Lionsgate plans to expand Starz into 15 more territories over the next three years. He did not identify specific markets for the premium cabler.

The move comes a year and a half after Lionsgate bought Starz Inc. for $4.4 billion in cash and stock in late 2016.

The launch of StarzPlay means that British and German viewers will be able to watch upcoming original shows from the U.S. premium cabler day-and-date with the U.S. and access a catalog of movies including “The Hunger Games.” The channel launches are the first for Lionsgate-owned Starz in the U.K. and Germany; there is already a branded Starz Play Arabia OTT service in the Middle East.

The TV lineup includes new shows “Vida” and “Sweetbitter,” as well as Starz dramas “Power,” “Outlander” and “Boss,” and comedies “Party Down” and “Survivor’s Remorse.”

The launch of StarzPlay “marks a significant expansion of the Starz platform into the global market,” said Starz chief Chris Albrecht. “These new channels allow us to extend the reach of our storytelling and bring the growing portfolio of Starz original series as well our extensive library of hit TV series and movies to a new audience.”

Amazon launched its channels service in the U.K. and Germany a year ago with digital nets from Discovery, ITV, NBCU and RTL among others.

“We continue to build on the selection of live and on-demand TV channels for Prime members with over 120 channels across Europe, so it couldn’t be more fitting that today we celebrate by bringing customers StarzPlay,” said Alex Green, European MD of channels and sport at Amazon Prime Video.

In Britain, Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to access Starzplay for £4.99 ($6.67) a month.

The fourth-quarter earnings and revenues topped Wall Street forecasts. Adjusted earnings were $55 million, or 25 cents a share — well ahead of the analyst consensus of negative one cent a share. Revenue of $1.04 billion in the quarter was slightly above the forecast of $1.037 billion.

Motion picture revenue fell 19% to $424.9 million due partly to “La La Land” generating much of its box office in the year-ago period and profit slid 38.6% to $29.2 million. TV production revenue gained 2% to $252.7 million and segment profits nearly doubled to $23.4 million. Media networks revenues edged down 1.4% to $365.7 million and segment profits were down 7.7% to $115.2 million.

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