Starz wants Disney to change the name of its upcoming Latin America streaming service, Star+. The Lionsgate-owned network filed copyright infringement lawsuits against Disney in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Starz is arguing that the name of Disney’s forthcoming streaming service is too similar with Starz, particularly its own streaming service StarzPlay, which operates in 58 countries worldwide and has been available in Latin America since 2019.
The news comes as the show is currently in production on Season 6, which was supposed to begin last year but was delayed due to the pandemic. Season 7 of the popular series will be based on the seventh book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone. It will consist of 12 episodes.
Starz has named Christina Davis to lead its original programming team. Davis, a producer and former CBS executive, will be president original programming at the premium cable outlet. She fills the post formerly held by Carmi Zlotnik, who departed in January after a decade and signed an exclusive producing deal at Apple soon after that.
Alison Hoffman, chief marketing officer at Starz, has been promoted to the newly created role of president, domestic networks. Hoffman will assume some of the operational oversight that Jeffrey Hirsch had a COO, before he was named president and CEO of the premium network in September.
Resolving a closely tracked negotiation, Comcast and Starz said Monday they have entered into a long-term carriage deal, more than a week before the Dec. 31 expiration date for the previous contract. Along with the pay-TV agreement, a content deal was announced between Starz parent Lionsgate and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. The content pact will see programming from Lionsgate’s library go to NBCU’s forthcoming streaming service Peacock, with NBCU fare streaming on StarzPlay.
Officials within the DOJ’s antitrust division are looking into Comcast’s announcement last week that it will replace 17 Starz channels in its Xfinity TV package with movie channel Epix amid complaints, including by some U.S. senators, that the move is anticompetitive, sources say.
Lionsgate’s Starz has begun warning subscribers that its 17 channels could be dropped and replaced by Comcast as soon as Dec. 10. The simmering dispute has led to reports that Lionsgate is considering spinning off Starz, which it bought for $4.4 billion in 2016.
The studio is looking to unlock hidden value in the premium cable channel as it expands in the streaming space with popular shows like Power and Outlander.
Lionsgate has promoted Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch to president and CEO of the premium network, inking a new long-term contract. He had been named chief operating officer in 2016 and has been running the network since the March exit of former Starz CEO Chris Albrecht.
CBS may have previously expressed interest in acquiring Lionsgate-owned Starz, but now that the Eye has merged with Viacom, it’s unlikely that the newly formed ViacomCBS would look to actively pursue the premium cabler in the near term.
AT&T and Lionsgate-owned Starz have reached a new multi-year carriage deal, avoiding a disruption of the premium network’s offerings on AT&T’s DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse cable platforms. The agreement encompasses Starz and Starz Encore linear and HD channels, on-demand and online services.
“We are running into the global arena faster than anybody,” Jeff Hirsch told an investors conference as he decided against commenting on CBS possibly eyeing the premium cable channel as an acquisition target for $5 billion.
Lionsgate’s chances of selling its Starz TV network to CBS for $5.5 billion just shrank — by about $2 billion. Investors in the film studio behind The Hunger Games made it abundantly clear this week that they don’t see CBS writing a $5 billion-plus check to Lionsgate to acquire Starz, the channel behind The Spanish Queen and other popular miniseries.
CBS Corp. has expressed interest in acquiring cable channel Starz from Lionsgate Entertainment, according to four people familiar with the situation. CBS has been looking at the acquisition as a possible complement to Viacom, which CBS also is considering purchasing, said three of the people.
Three years after the close of Lionsgate’s $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz, the companies have stepped up the integration of their television operations under Lionsgate Entertainment CEO Jon Feltheimer. Merging are the companies’ TV physical production and post-production units, legal and TV music departments as well as aspects of business affairs and TV finance related to production.
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht will depart next month after a decade at the company. Albrecht’s decision to step down comes two years after Starz’s acquisition by Lionsgate was completed amid the continued integration of the two companies. For the time being, Starz will move forward under COO Jeffrey Hirsch and the current leadership team, including President of Programming Carmi Zlotnik, working closely with Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.
Altice USA has fired back at Starz over the cable network’s FCC request for emergency injunctive relief in the carriage standoff that is now in its fourth week. Starz has been dark on Altice USA systems since Jan. 1. Last week, Starz asked the FCC to order Starz-Encore channels back on Altice USA systems because the operator violated FCC rules regarding giving subscribers notice of a major programming change. Altice on Tuesday argued in its response to the FCC that Starz’ complaint “has no basis in fact, law or policy.”
As the Starz-Altice USA carriage dispute drags on, the Lionsgate-owned network has filed two separate petitions with the FCC that aim to force the cable company to restore it on New York-area Optimum systems.