Starz is bouncing around ideas for “Power” prequels and sequels, said president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour on Tuesday, also discussing the “John Wick” spinoff series “The Continental” and a “Weeds” reboot.
The exec also briefly responded to questions about Orlando Jones’ exit from “American Gods,” calling him a “tremendous talent and a really great person” and telling the reporters and critics in the crowd that “Chic and the team decided to be in an area where Mr. Nancy didn’t play a prominent role.”
Speaking to the broader TV landscape, premium cable networks like Starz, Showtime and HBO have “always been that service that’s sold on top of broad-based television,” said Hirsch, touting the network’s adult-oriented programming. “I think we continue to sit in that position.”
Services like Hulu, Amazon and the forthcoming HBO Max are trying to be all things to all people, he said. But Starz remains focused on serving women and African American audiences.
“When you look at what people are trying to do in terms of their content and the breadth of their content, they’re really trying to be that first [entertainment service] in the home,” said Hirsch. “Hulu’s trying to replace the traditional cable companies, and we’re not trying to do that,” said Hirsch, calling Starz unique in its value proposition. The company is also in a position to create opportunities to expand its business through its strategic marketing partnership with Disney Plus, he said.
Starz’s domestic streaming business has grown 70% from the prior year, ending the last quarter with 5.6 mil subscribers.
The company in November launched its StarzPlay streaming app in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico.
Hirsch believes Starz continues to be the “cherry on top” of paid cable service. While forthcoming streaming services are looking for broader audience, Hirsch reiterated during his Q&A with the reporters and critics in the room that Starz has a strong presence with women and African American viewers.
Asked to give an update on the multiple “Power” spinoffs which are in the works, Hirsch stayed mum on which characters they will focus on. However, he did say that among the ideas being developed are both “prequels and sequels” and that, from what he has seen so far, “they’re as good as if not better than the original show.”
As for the “John Wick” TV spinoff series “The Continental,” that project is “moving along,” but Hirsch, who said he recently had a season pitch meeting with series team, said the tricky part is “trying to get it to the right place so it doesn’t interfere with the motion picture side of the house.” The fourth “John Wick” picture is scheduled for summer 2021, and Hirsch said the show will likely come “some time after” that installment.
Addressing concerns about a “Weeds” reboot sans creator Jenji Kohan, Hirsch said the Lionsgate team has been in touch with Kohan, he said, but that the show would cover a very different world of cannabis, which is now legal in many states.