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Starz plans originals boost

US cable network Starz is committed to boosting its original output following its split from Liberty Media and is also looking at other types of programming deals, its CEO Chris Albrecht has said.

The White Queen

“We’re still targeting 50 hours [of originals] over the next couple of years, but we’re certainly evaluating that, and a lot of that has to do also with our change in our portfolio mentality of really being able to consider other kind of partnerships and financial arrangements,” he said.

Starz and Liberty Media began trading as separate companies in January.

Albrecht said Starz would air about 36 original hours this year and added the cablecaster was becoming increasingly interested in “fully owning” new content to exploit through its Starz Worldwide Distribution and Anchor Bay imprints.

However, he was also keen to stress Starz had “always shown our willingness to partner” and share rights such as it did with its BBC coproduction The White Queen.

This week, Starz announced it was developing an original scripted series set in the world of competitive ballroom dancing in the northern English town of Blackpool.

Albrecht’s comments came as Starz reported its first financial quarter results since spinning off from John Malone’s Liberty Media in January.

The figures showed Starz’s premium channels Starz and Encore had hit record high subscribers figures of 21.8 million and 34.8 million, respectively. However, Q4 revenue decreased 2% to US$422.2 million year-on-year. Operating income also dipped slightly to US$85.6 million.

Speaking to investors, Albrecht declined to outline the financial specifics of Starz’s recent multi-year output deal with Sony, though TBI understands it is worth up to US$2 billion.