Comcast to Add a New Starz Duo

Fulfilling an earlier carriage commitment to Starz Entertainment Group LLC, Comcast Corp. is adding a pair of new targeted film channels to its digital lineup April 3.

RetroPlex and IndiePlex will be available to the majority of Comcast’s digital-cable customers as part of the MSO’s “Digital Plus” service.

Starz executive vice president of sales and marketing Edward Huguez said RetroPlex, targeting the 25-45 set, will offer films from the 1950s-70s that “viewers are very familiar with and can watch over and over.” Sample titles include Five Easy Pieces, West Side Story and Patton.

Drawing a separation from Sundance Channel and The Independent Film Channel, Huguez said IndiePlex -- with movies like Leaving Las Vegas, Trainspottin’ and Do the Right Thing -- will show “titles that have been theatrically released and, thus, have a broader appeal than you see on existing channels.”

The programmer’s count is now up to 16 movie services. The current lineup has seven Encore channels, six Starz channels and the omnibus Movieplex.

Last June, when Comcast extended its affiliate agreement with Starz, it obtained access to 1,500 titles per year on-demand and agreed to launch two new premium-movie channels.

Starz plans to pitch the new channels to affiliates including EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network. The direct-broadcast satellite provider’s carriage contract with Starz expired Jan. 31. The programmer’s services are still on Dish as the two parties talk about a new deal.