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Lionsgate Evaluates Epix Stake

READ MORE:In April, MCN editors met with Starz CEO Chris Albrecht and key lieutenants, talking about consolidation (including possibly Starz) and the path he saw for his premium programmer and its OTT offshoot.  

In the wake of its $4.4 billion agreement to purchase Starz, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said the studio is looking forward to “conversations” with its partners in Epix, hinting that those talks could include a possible exit from the fledgling premium channel.

Lionsgate announced its agreement to purchase Starz on Thursday. On a conference call with analysts to discuss the transaction, Feltheimer said while he is pleased with the Epix relationship, it "is not truly a strategic platform for us.”

“Our partners have known about the possibility of this transaction for some time,” Feltheimer continued. "I'll look forward to having conversations with them about maximizing our mutual investment.”

Asked later if those talks would include possible exit strategies from the service, Feltheimer was vague.

"There are a lot of possibilities that I'm not going to get into right now," Feltheimer said. "We think it is a very valuable stake and we look forward to having robust conversations with our partners to think through the overall pay television environment and think through the best way to monetize that stake."

Lionsgate formed Epix in 2009 with Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and while the multi-platform service has gained carriage with top providers like Dish Network, Charter Comunications and others, it has struggled to find an audience.

Feltheimer added on the call that Starz CEO Chris Albrecht is expected to continue to run Starz and play a “major part” in the leadership of the combined company. Albrecht recently signed a new contract with Starz keeping him in the fold through 2020.