Starz Gains Co-Op Deal for Kids, HD

Starz Encore Group LLC has signed an agreement with The National Cable Television Cooperative for carriage of two new services, Starz! Kids and Starz! HD.

Both new services will launch on Dec. 2. Kids plans a slate of uninterrupted, ad-free kids' films, notably Finding Nemo, The Jungle Book 2, Monsters Inc., The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The HD channel will be a high-definition version of the flagship Starz movie channel, delivering a selection of films in 1080i with full Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Upcoming films include The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Anger Management.

NCTC members will be able to add Starz Kids to Starz Super Pak lineups and to offer Starz HD to existing Starz subscribers at no additional retail cost, the programmer said.

"It is appropriate that this deal follows so closely on the heels of our recent agreement with Comcast," Starz Encore Group president of sales and marketing Robert Clasen said in a press release. "Despite all the consolidation of the past few years, the independent cable operator remains a key ingredient in the industry. NCTC's members prove that you don't have to be big to be innovative and to offer the best to your customers.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to provide these exciting new services to the 15 million customers served by NCTC's 6,500 member systems."

NCTC president Michael Pandzik said in the release: "Starz Encore continues to bring top box office movies to their networks and that leads to strong customer satisfaction. Starz! Kids and Starz! HD will further enhance the value of the Starz Super Pak networks for both NCTC member companies and their subscribers. We're pleased to make these new networks available to our members and are proud of the independent cable operators that are making HDTV available for their customers."

Also last week, Starz said it relaunched the StarzSuperPak.Com and StarzOnDemand.Com consumer Web sites.

The Super Pak site now makes it easier for users to navigate through information about content available on Starz channels, including "actor" and "title" searches and new channel and programming grids.

Designed with broadband users in mind, streamed movie trailers and previews are available under a "previews" section of the site, including original celebrity interviews.