Comcast, Starz Continue Carriage Talks

Comcast continues its negotiations with Starz over carriage of the premium network, pledging to keep the channels on its XFinity lineup at least until its agreement with the programmer ends on Dec. 31.

Comcast began notifying customers in October that it intended to drop the Starz service -- which numbers 17 channels -- by Dec. 10 and replace it with Epix. Comcast changed its mind and agreed to carry the Starz channels through Dec. 31, as some local governments objected. 

Comcast said that the Starz main channel and all of its on demand content is available to customers as the talks continue. But about six Starz channels were removed from video packages to make room for Epix -- Starz Edge, Starz in Black; Starz Comedy; Starz Cinema; and Starz Kids & Family. 

Content from those channels is still accessible to Comcast customers via On Demand.

“We are still negotiating to try to reach a deal with Starz that makes sense for us and our customers,” Comcast said in a statement. “Starz and StarzEncore content will remain in customer packages until the end of the month under our current agreement.”

Starz declined comment but some people familiar with the programmer confirmed that talks with Comcast are ongoing.

Cable operators have chafed in the past regarding Starz pricing. The premium channel’s standalone app is priced at $8.99 per month, while cable and satellite operators have to charge as much as $11.95 per month to their customers for the service. That was the gist of last year’s five-week blackout of the channel by Altice USA. The two parties were able to reach a deal in February 2018.