Changes in Sight at Starz Group

Come second-quarter 2005, Starz Encore Group LLC will be aligned differently.

The premium programmer will change its corporate name, and plans to roll out a new channel lineup and logos by the last week in March or the first week in April of next year.

The new corporate name, Starz Entertainment Group LLC, is designed to simplify the company's identity, emphasize its flagship channel and underline a company that is also offering advanced services such as Starz Ticket and Starz On Demand, according to company executives.

Consumer-support plans for the rebranding initiative are still being developed, executive vice president of marketing Jerry Maglio said.

Although he would not provide specifics, Maglio billed those undertakings as “substantial.” They'll be integrated alongside efforts to tout Starz On Demand programs with existing cable affiliates, MSOs that would be introducing the platform, and a “DVR-related” initiative for satellite providers.

“Many times, changes are made out of desperation,” Maglio said. “Our management has decided to enact these changes at a great time, from a high point.” Starz gained 950,000 new subscribers in the second quarter and enjoyed a collective 25% increase in ratings across its 13 channels from January through August of this year, versus the same period in 2003, he said.

Starz Theater will be replaced with Starz Edge, a service aimed at the 18-to-34 set, and Starz Kids will meld into Starz Family, offering daypart-appropriate films to children and families. That frees up space for a Starz Comedy channel.

The Encore moniker will be added to each of the following theme channels: Westerns, WAM! America's Kidz Network, Mystery and Action.

Also, True Stories will be renamed Encore Drama, and Love Stories will become Encore Love.

“We want to emphasize the value consumers receive from subscribing to Encore,” Maglio said.

The San Francisco office of Landor & Associates helped with “nomenclature and architectural” changes and the “master” logo. PMcD Designs, a New York shop that has worked with ESPN and Court TV, is developing new logos for the thematic channels.