Lionsgate to spin off premium movie network Starz

The streaming service Starz is displayed on a smart television set.
(Graphic by The Desk)

Lionsgate is in the initial stages of spinning off its premium movie service Starz, the company’s chief executive confirmed during a conference call on Friday.

Jon Feltheimer, the CEO of Lionsgate, said the company was “engaged in a robust and product process with our bankers and a number of potential strategic and financial partners” concerning the multiplex movie network, which also exists as a standalone streaming service.

“We are targeting an announcement of our plan by the end of the summer and expect a transaction could close as early as our fiscal fourth quarter,” Feltheimer said.

Executives offered no specifics as to who those potential suitors might be. Reports published earlier this month indicated streaming platform Roku and the private equity firm Apollo Global Management had expressed an interest in acquiring some or all of Starz.

Starz operates several premium cable channels under its flagship brand. It also operates channels programmed under the Starz Encore and MoviePlex brands.

The network offers a standalone streaming service that charges $9 a month for access to its original programs like “Power” and “Outlander.” It also offers licensed television shows and movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Walt Disney Company, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros Discovery.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion. Since then, it has helped Starz compete with the likes of Paramount Global’s Showtime and Warner Bros Discovery’s HBO along with commercial streamers Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu.

On Friday, Lionsgate said Starz had 24.5 million customers globally for its streaming service and 35.8 million domestic and international pay television subscribers.