Starz Unveils $25M Rebranding Initiative

Ready or not, Starz is unveiling a $25 million rebranding and marketing initiative in April that it hopes will shine a brighter light on the movie-centric premium service.

The ambitious rebranding move — the network's first in six years — will include a new logo and on-air look for Starz, its six standard-definition movie channels, its four HD channels, its Vongo premium online service and its new StarzPlay broadband service, said Starz Entertainment senior vice president of marketing Nancy McGee.

The multiplatform campaign will be buttressed by a new tagline, “Are You Ready?” which the network hopes will help drive home to viewers the numerous entertainment options it delivers over various platforms, said vice president, marketing communications and consumer strategy Kelly Bumann.

Beginning April 7 and running for six weeks, Starz will roll out three 30-second television spots touting the tagline and the new logo on syndicated entertainment programs such as Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, as well as during such NBC late-night shows as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, said McGee. In addition, the spots will run on several cable networks, although McGee would not reveal specifics.

A week later, the network will launch several online sponsorships featuring the logo and tagline on such sites as America Online and movie resource site, as well as the sites of such entertainment publications as People, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly.

The rebranding also reflects the numerous changes the premium service has undergone over the last three years.

In an effort to bulk up its original content, Starz in 2006 purchased IDT Entertainment and its animated and live-action studios — Mainframe Entertainment, Manga Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DPS Studios and DPS Film Roman.

Also in 2006, the network Starz created movie studio Overture Films, which is charged with developing eight to 12 full-length movies a year for the company.

Earlier this year, Starz moved into the original scripted-series arena with the launch of two comedy series, Hollywood Residential and Head Case. This summer, the network will debut its first one-hour drama series based on the Academy-Award winning movie Crash.

The move also comes during a strong Starz run in the ratings department. The network in February tied rival HBO with a 1.0 primetime household rating, the first time the movie-targeted network has ever matched the Time Warner-owned premium service, according to Starz officials. A year prior, HBO's 1.6 household rating crushed Starz's 0.8 rating.

Further, Starz — on the strength of such movies as Wild Hogs, Are We There Yet? and Ghost Rider — finished ahead of HBO in the total-day race, 0.7 to 0.6.

“Clearly, we are not the company we were 18 months ago, so we're trying to build on the reputation that we've built over the year as the best source for commercial-free premium movies,” McGee said. “We know consumers love movies, and we remain very focused on trying to find new, innovative and exciting ways to bring more movie product into their lives.”

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.