Starz Ramps Up OTT, On-Demand Content

Starz is aggressively bulking up its OTT and on-demand content for families and multicultural viewers with the addition of kids-themed and Spanish-language programming.

The Starz app — which allows the premium network’s subscribers to watch Starz content on mobile or TV-connected devices through an authentication process or purchase Starz for $8.99 per month — has more than doubled its programming offerings to 5,500 original series and acquired titles since launching in spring 2016, Jeff Hirsch, Starz’s chief operating officer, said.

As part of its content push, the network has added more than 1,500 kids-targeted television series and movies, including Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-lot, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Inspector Gadget and Yu-Gi-Oh, Hirsch said.

The kids content complements the network’s adult-targeted shows like Power to provide programming that appeals to everyone in the family.

“Providing a product for the head of household to watch, like Power, but also having great kids programming around it, reinforces the value proposition that we’re trying to give to that consumer,” he said.

In addition, Starz is offering nearly 300 Spanish-language movies and telenovela episodes, including such shows as El Cartel de los Sapos and La Promesa, as part of the network’s continued efforts to reach out to underserved audiences. The network has already announced a number of Hispanic-targeted original projects in development, including drama series Teresa and Pour Vida.

“We’ve made a very conscious decision to focus on underserved audiences in terms of our original programming, with The Girlfriend Experience and Outlander for females and Power, Survivor’s Remorse and to a certain extent American Gods for the African-American audience,” Hirsch said. “Adding telenovelas and movies in preparation for some of our great originals is the proper right step in terms of that programming strategy.”

With “significantly” more than 1 million subscribers signed up for its Starz OTT service, Hirsch said the company is focusing on offering content that will bring more value to consumers.

Starz generated record signups over the past two weeks, coinciding with the launch of the fourth season of Power, Hirsch added, although he would not reveal specifics.

“We think we’ve created a really simple and easy-to-use product with great consumer features at a price that provides great value for the Starz consumer, and the marketplace is reacting to that in a positive way,” Hirsch said.

Starz also hopes to increase its available content by another 40% by year-end to 7,700 titles, with additional acquisition launches including The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.

Hirsch also addressed Comcast’s ongoing decision not to support the TV Everywhere aspect of the Starz app, saying that the network continues to talk to the operator regarding a solution.

“Comcast are great partners and they see the value of our programming,” Hirsch said. “We continue to have a good partnership and we’ll continue to try to figure out how to work together, not just on the authenticated position but other parts of the business.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.