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Starz Serving Underserved Audiences

Starz is making inroads on its efforts to reach out to underserved audiences on premium TV through its original series.

The network’ freshman series Power, which follows the life of an African-American club owner who doubles as a New York City drug kingpin, is generating the largest concentration of black viewers for a scripted premium series over the past several years, according to the network. Only HBO’s Game Of Thrones and True Blood draws a larger number of African-American viewers of any premium series currently running.

With 68% of Power’s audience African-American, the network is targeting what it believes is an underserved audience on premium TV, according to David Baldwin, executive vice president of program planning for Starz. Overall, the series, which has already been renewed for the second season, is averaging about 4 million viewers across all platforms, which shows that Power is also drawing in more than black viewers.

The network is also hoping to expose the series to a wider audience when it launches Power on its Encore Black channel beginning Aug. 12, according to Baldwin. “With Starz at 22 million homes and Encore [Black] at 35 million homes, we have a whole other universe that we can expose the series to,” he said.

The network will continue to mine the African-American audience this fall with the debut of the LeBron James-created, basketball-themed comedy series Survivor’s Remorse, said the network. “There’s every reason to believe that we’ll get a lot of African-American households to tune in, check it out and stay with it,” Baldwin said. “Also with the number of NBA fans around the country and people who know about professional sports it wouldn't be surprising if we get a broader audience to check it out.”

Along with African-Americans, Starz is also looking to draw in more female viewers. Its White Queen series drew a 60% female viewership in route to generating more than 4.8 million viewers across all platforms. While the network has yet to greenlight a second season of its White Queen mini-series – network officials has said Starz may pursue a White Queen sequel dubbed White Princess – the network has high hopes that its new fantasy-based series Outlander will attract a huge female audience. The series, based on the popular Diana Gabaldon series of best-selling novels, debuts Aug. 9 on the network.

“I think it’s fair to say that Outlander is in the same wheel house as the White Queen in terms of having a large female following,” he said. “Premium television has been something of a male-skewing sector, on recently has there been recognition of the female audience on premium networks.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.