“Chris’s renowned programming expertise and entrepreneurial abilities have helped build Starz into a premium global brand distinguished by its great shows, fast-growing direct to consumer initiatives, and expanding international footprint,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in a statement.
The company said it plans to move forward under current COO Jeffrey Hirsch and the current leadership team, working closely with Feltheimer. Carmi Zlotnik, president of programming, will continue to take the lead in programming and related matters.
“As we complete the first phase of our evolution into a unified company and accelerate our focus on Starz’s international expansion, Chris has decided to step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Feltheimer. “I look forward to working closely with him and Jeff Hirsch to ensure a smooth transition and plan the next steps of the Company’s continued growth.”
Albrecht first came on board Starz in 2010, developing its premium pay-TV business and increasing its investment in original programming, according to the company. Scripted series under his watch include “Power,” “Outlander,” “Black Sails,” and others.
“I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished the last 10 years building Starz into one of the most exciting premium pay television brands in the industry,” said Albrecht. “As we reach the two-year anniversary of the integration of our two companies and complete the first exciting chapter of our growth together, I’ve decided it is time to move on to new opportunities. I leave Starz in the hands of one of the most gifted executive teams in the business and have great confidence in their continued future success.”
News of Albrecht’s departure was first reported by Deadline.
Albrecht came to Starz after a storied run at HBO, where he oversaw its growth into a premium-TV powerhouse, with such series as “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City, “Six Feet Under, “Deadwood,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He left HBO under a cloud in 2007 after he had an altercation with his then-girlfriend at an industry conference in Las Vegas. He also served as the president of IMG Global Media prior to his tenure at Starz.
The leadership transition at Starz comes amid an industry shift in the pay-TV landscape. There are also questions as to whether Starz can compete in the streaming wars against the likes of Netflix, Apple and Amazon.
Moreover, Starz parent Lionsgate has been frequently speculated to be an M&A target during a time of consolidation in the greater media space.
With Albrecht’s exit, there are now questions about who will spearhead programming at Starz, given his hands-on approach to development and greenlighting programming.