Lionsgate Shares Tumble on Report Comcast May Drop Starz

Shares of Lionsgate fell in Friday trading after a report said Comcast had informed the company it planned to drop its premium-cable Starz network, home to series such as “Power” and “Outlander” – a move that would deprive the outlet of millions of subscribers.

A Comcast representative declined to comment and Lionsgate declined to make executives available for comment. Lionsgate’s Class A share were down 6.84% in late Friday trading, off 65 cents to $8.85 per share

One person familiar with the matter said the companies are in renewal discussions and have four months to go before their current pact ends. Talks are continuing, this person said. The Information previously reported on the possibility that Comcast could drop Starz.

The early-stage brouhaha is indicative of the new strains weighing upon relationships between programmers and cable and satellite distributors. Recent weeks have seen a plethora of blackouts and end-game maneuvers between AT&T and CBS, AT&T and Nexstar Media and Dish and a host of different programming entities. At present, the various Fox-branded regional sports networks are no longer available on Dish’s satellite service as a result of breakdown in talks between the two sides. Control over those outlets recently moved to Sinclair Broadcast Group, except for the YES Network, now controlled by a consortium that includes Sinclair, The New York Yankees and Amazon.

Starz has been in talks with other entities in recent days. On Friday, the cable outlet struck a new carrigae agreement with AT&T that calls for AT&T to offer the suite of Starz and StarzEncore networks across DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse.

But the Lionsgate property is essentially a standalone entity, while its main rivals, Showtime and HBO, are part of a larger corporations. Showtime is part of CBS Corp., which has placed new emphasis on collecting subscribers to a brodband-based version of the service, along with the subscription-based venue “CBS All Access.” HBO is fast becoming the linchpin of a new streaming offering from its new parent, AT&T, which acquired the pay-cable service as part of its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. AT&T is readying the launch of another subscription-based service, HBO Max, that will build upon current broadband versions of HBO.

Dire threats are not uncommon during contract discussions between programming services and their distributors. As talks move closer to a deadline, both sides have been known to take our ads and build websites aimed at undermining their partner and even encouraging consumers to find other ways to get the programs they may be denied through traditional means.

But consumers dislike blackouts, and so too do lawmakers and regulators. Subscribers pay significant monthly fees for services like Starz, so Comcast would likely face some reprisal if it were to actually remove the service from its lineup without cutting back fees or replacing Starz with some equivalent. Comcast, like other cable providers, is grappling with the migration of traditional video subscribers to streaming services and so-called skinny bundles” that offer program packages that cost significantly less than a standard cable offering.



More Biz

  • Timbaland

    Hipgnosis Songs Acquires Timbaland Catalog

    The fast-rising Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited continues its aggressive growth surge, acquiring a catalog from songwriter-producer-artist Timbaland that comprises 108 albums and songs. Timbaland is one of the most successful songwriter-producers in the hip-hop/R&B realm: The catalog includes hits by Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Nelly Furtado, 50 Cent, Madonna, 2Pac, Rihanna, Drake and [...]

  • Rufus Wainwright Signs With BMG for

    Rufus Wainwright Signs With BMG for New Studio Album

    Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has signed a new global recordings agreement with BMG to release his upcoming studio album. The still-untitled album, Wainwright’s ninth of original material and first since 2012, is described in the announcement as “a return to form and his most accessible album to date.” To that end, it is “the bookend” to [...]

  • Kevin Feige Marvel Studios Variety Cover

    Kevin Feige Named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel

    Kevin Feige’s universe continues to grow. The mastermind of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been named Chief Creative Officer, Marvel in addition to being president of Marvel Studios, Variety has learned. He will now be responsible for the overall creative direction of Marvel’s storytelling across mediums, including publishing, film, TV, and animation. Marvel Television and [...]

  • China presentation mipcom

    Reality Shows, Rom-Coms and Ping Pong Dramas: Chinese Producers Show Off TV Exports

    At its best, television serves as a mirror for its audience. This year, the Mipcom conference trained its annual country-of-focus spotlight on original TV content produced in China. That proved to be a timely choice as the conference came on the heels of last week’s headline-making clashes between Chinese and Western cultural values in the [...]

  • Felicity Huffman

    Felicity Huffman Reports to Federal Prison to Serve Two-Week Sentence

    Felicity Huffman reported to federal prison in Dublin, Calif., on Tuesday morning to begin her two-week sentence for paying to cheat on her daughter’s SAT test. Huffman pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, admitting that she paid $15,000 to consultant Rick Singer to boost her daughter’s SAT score. Judge Idira Talwani sentenced her last [...]

  • Sallie Krawcheck

    Sallie Krawcheck's Ellevest Launches Women-Focused Impact Investment Platform

    Ellevest, the female-focused investment platform headed by Sallie Krawcheck, has launched an impact investment fund that will court high-net-worth women in entertainment and other sectors who want to tailor their stock portfolios to favor companies with good track records on a range of social concerns. Krawcheck, who was one of the highest-ranking women on Wall [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content