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Starz Expands Into Canada With Bell Media Pact

Starz is taking a big step in its plan to expand internationally, striking a deal with Bell Media to launch the first Starz-branded service in Canada.

Bell Media’s The Movie Network Encore is to be rebranded next year, likely with Starz in the moniker although Bell Media did not get specific. The channel will also be made available as a standalone app for streaming.

As part of the deal, Starz parent Lionsgate has also set a theatrical pay TV output deal with Bell Media covering future releases. Lionsgate’s existing movie output pact in Canada is with Entertainment One.

“We’re delighted to bring Starz to Canada as part of our international channel rollout,” said Starz president-CEO Chris Albrecht. “Bell Media is one of North America’s elite content companies, and they bring great brand recognition, a massive consumer base, and unparalleled distribution skills to our alliance. This agreement creates the perfect foundation for the growth of Starz in the territory.”

Bell Media is the parent of Canada’s CTV and also one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasters and cable programmers. Lionsgate film releases will air in the pay TV window on Bell Media’s French-language pay TV channel Super Ecran. Starz programs will also be featured on the company’s CraveTV streaming catch-up service.

“Bell Media is thrilled to be on board as Starz’s first international partner,” said Bell Media president Randy Lennox. “Starz is making waves with bold, fresh content that’s resonating with audiences around the world.”

Starz’s growing originals slate includes such series as “Power,” “The Girlfriend Experience,” “Outlander” and “American Gods.” It has two earthy new dramas, “Vida” and “Sweetbitter,” arriving in May.

Launching branded channels around the world with some muscle provided by Lionsgate, which bought out Starz in December 2016, could be transformative move for the company that would help cover the spiraling costs of high-priced programming.

Showtime struck a similar deal with Bell Media in 2015 for its first Canadian launch. CBS Corp.’s premium network has since spread its reach into France, the U.K., Italy, Germany and other overseas markets.

(Pictured: “Power”)

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