Fri, Aug. 28, 5:37 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) -- amid a push to pump up original programming with investments -- logged a strong ratings debut for its comedy block, with the help of the former Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.
- Blunt Talk, starring Patrick Stewart and created by Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death), broke the network's records for an original comedy premiere, with 1.5M viewers in live-plus-three-day results, while the second-season premiere of Survivor's Remorse drew 1.3M viewers, up 87% Y/Y. It had 2.2M multiplatform viewers.
- Survivor's Remorse (about a young basketball star) has a number of sports figures attached as producers, notably NBA star LeBron James and his partner Maverick Carter.
- Previously: Starz's 'Power' sets viewership mark with finale (Aug. 21 2015)
Fri, Aug. 21, 3:43 PM
- Starz's (NASDAQ:STRZA) flagship series, Power, hit a new mark with its season 2 finale: 2.39M viewers in live-plus-three-day ratings.
- That's up 50% over the first-season finale, and the season built on the first one throughout. Its 6.5M multiplatform viewers set a record for a Starz original.
- The company noted in its earnings report that it had fortified the pipeline for original programming, highlighted by the addition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, along with Blunt Talk, Survivors Remorse, Da Vinci's Demons, Ash vs. Evil Dead, and Flesh and Bone.
- Power has been renewed for a third season.
Thu, Aug. 6, 1:01 PM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down another 5.2% today (down 13.7% in two days) amid a deepening media stock sell-off that it seems to have spurred with its Tuesday earnings report, where it took a fair chunk of time on an analyst call acknowledging subscriber losses at ESPN.
- Also off broadly at midday: CBS -3.1%; CMCSA -4%; FOXA -9.8%; VIAB -15.6%; TWX -5%; AMCX -9.6%; LGF -6.7%.
- The sell-off is affecting several companies with a cable or pay-TV component, as sub losses at ESPN -- the most valuable part of any cable bundle -- point to the effect of cord-cutting.
- Analysts are agreeing that the trend of unbundling (or skinny bundling) might threaten the long-term health of the pay TV ecosystem, which has profited from the promise of rising subscription fees from providers. That's dependent on subscriber counts that don't significantly drop off.
- A growing pile of reports this week is indicating warning signs for subscriber counts. Dish Network (DISH -2.2%) had "almost certainly the worst quarter" for satellite subscriber losses, analyst Craig Moffett noted, as it merged Sling TV subscriber growth into its overall count, masking the core number. Moffett estimates Dish lost 151K satellite TV customers in Q2.
- Subscriber losses mean lower affiliate fees. Disney said in its call "we now expect domestic cable affiliate revenue [growth] to fall short of previous expectation, but still in high single digits."
- Other industry decliners: CRWN -8.9%; QVCA -5.4%; STRZA -6.1%
- Previously: Disney tumbles 8.9% after revenue miss; Iger talks ESPN again (Aug. 05 2015)
- Previously: Disney's Iger bullish on ESPN despite consumer changes, unbundling (Aug. 04 2015)
Mon, Aug. 3, 10:18 AM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) is off 4.8% in early action after Morgan Stanley downgrades the stock to Equal Weight.
- The firm lowered its price target, to $42 from $46. Shares closed Friday at $40.45 and are trading trading currently at $38.53.
- Q2 results showed that subscriber growth hadn't translated to revenues, MS said -- and "tax frictions" could dissuade possible international buyers for the network until 2016, wrote Ryan Fiftal.
- He's cut his full-year 2015 EPS estimate to $2.53, from $2.60, and notes there's no clear catalyst until 2016 while shares have already appreciated 29.4% YTD.
- Previously: Starz -10.7% after Q2 misses profit, revenue expectations (Jul. 29 2015)
Wed, Jul. 29, 11:33 AM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) has tanked in early trading, -10.7%, after a Q2 miss on top and bottom lines mitigated by subscriber figures that grew from last year.
- Earnings of $63M were down 9% Y/Y despite operating profit that rose to $110.5M. Adjusted OIBDA was $123.4M -- like operating profit, up 5%. For Starz Networks, revenue of $333.3M was up 2%.
- Revenue breakout: Programming networks and other services, $380.3M (up 2.2%); Home video net sales, $37.4M (down 1.8%).
- The company's on track toward a goal of 75-80 episodes of original series, says CEO Chris Albrecht, bolstered by its key hit Power.
- Subscriber count of 23.5M was down slightly from Q1's 23.7M, but up from a year-ago 22M.
- Conference call to come at 1 p.m. ET.
- Press release
Wed, Jul. 29, 6:41 AM
Mon, Jul. 27, 11:36 AM
- Following AT&T's (T +0.6%) closure on its acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), the company reached a new multiyear carriage deal with Starz (STRZA -0.7%).
- Talks had broken down a week ago -- and now AT&T speaks for DirecTV subscribers as well.
- Terms were undisclosed but the two companies renewed their deal with hours to go before a blackout. The talks had been ongoing for several months.
Thu, Jul. 16, 2:36 PM
- Starz (STRZA +2%) is hiring Jeffrey Hirsch to head up a new area of Global Marketing and Product Planning, and he'll join the company on Monday.
- Hirsch -- formerly an executive VP and CMO of residential services at Time Warner Cable -- will oversee development of products and services for worldwide distribution, with particular focus on brand awareness as Starz develops more original programming.
- Starz will hold a conference call to discuss Q2 results on July 29 at 1 p.m. ET.
Thu, Jul. 9, 5:29 PM
- There's been little news coming out of secretive Sun Valley -- where media moguls gather at the Allen & Co. conference for "summer camp" and sometimes rearrange billions of dollars with game-changing M&A -- but John Malone today dropped more hints about content consolidation.
- While media distribution companies have more obvious benefits from consolidation, Malone -- who has hands in Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA), Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:QVCA), Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) -- said economies can apply to content too.
- "It's all about global scale," he told CNBC. "If you want to be a meaningful player in most of any of these media communication businesses, you have to think about it."
- And while speculation boils about a tie-up between Malone's Starz (STRZA) and Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) after the two swapped stock, Malone focused on the educational side: "I'm an engineer; what the hell do I know about content? Trying to understand where these ideas come from, how they get created and produced. The development of stories is really going to be important in this random-access world that Reed Hastings (NASDAQ:NFLX) is driving us into."
- Malone said Netflix changed the game, and that his companies "missed the boat a little bit" on over-the-top offerings.
- Today: NFLX +2.4%; LGF +0.9%; QVCA +0.3%; CHTR +0.2%.
Thu, Jun. 25, 5:35 PM
Fri, Jun. 19, 6:01 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) says it has launched Starz Play -- its streaming TV Everywhere service -- on Amazon's streaming hardware, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
- That adds platforms to the existing ones: Microsoft Xbox One and Xbox 360, Google's Chromecast, wireless devices on iOS and Android and PCs.
Fri, Jun. 12, 7:41 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) has signed Courtney Kemp Agboh, creator of its biggest series Power, to an exclusive deal.
- Kemp Agboh -- who had formerly worked on The Bernie Mac Show, The Good Wife and TV's Beauty and the Beast -- will continue as showrunner for Power, which launched its second season June 6 with the most-watched program in Starz's history, with 1.43M viewers of the premiere (and 3.62M with weekend encores, but not counting time-shifting).
- In Power's first season, it pulled 4.7M viewers per episode counting time-shifting and encores.
Wed, Jun. 3, 4:41 PM
- A revitalized John Malone is ready to push consolidation across media firms, with his eye on content now that the Charter-Time Warner Cable wheels are in motion.
- The "bundle" is coming apart, he tells the WSJ, and as he hinted at earlier this spring, Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) could play a key role in content mergers.
- “Lions Gate could buy Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) and potentially other free radicals in the industry,” Malone said. Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE:SNI) or AMC (NASDAQ:AMCX) could be targets though those agreements might be difficult.
- Malone engineered a stock-swap earlier this year between Lions Gate and Starz that put him on LGF's board in exchange for 4.51% of Starz, and Lions Gate was reportedly close to a Starz buyout before valuation concern killed the deal.
- Asked at an investor meeting about CBS and Viacom, Malone didn't announce any plans, pointing to the Sumner Redstone succession issue (Redstone controls near 80% of both companies) -- though there's wide belief that either could be for sale after Redstone's death.
- Aside from his involvement in Starz and Lions Gate, Malone also has a 29% voting stake in Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) as well as a stake in ITV (OTCPK:ITVPF), not to mention his position in the various Liberty companies. (Liberty Broadband is backing Charter in its TWC takeover.)
- After a flat day, Starz spiked 1.5% heading into the close, and Lions Gate finished the day up 1.8% as Malone's comments came to light.
Thu, Apr. 30, 12:55 PM
- Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) has moved up 2.5% after a Q1 where it beat expectations solidly across the board and ramped up its original programming by the most ever.
- Operating income rose 26% to $142.5M. Adjusted OIBDA gained 23% to $155.5M.
- Subscriptions gained by 400K since the end of Q4, and are up 1.8M from a year ago. Starz has 23.7M subscribers.
- Revenue by segment: Starz Networks, $334M (up 3%); Starz Distribution, $109.7M (up 25.7%); Starz Animation, $7.3M (down 18%).
- The company says its slate of original programming this year will include 75-80 episodes of scripted series.
- Conference call at 1 p.m. ET.
- Press release
- Previously: Report: Lions Gate was close to Starz buyout (Apr. 29 2015)
Thu, Apr. 30, 7:43 AM
Wed, Apr. 29, 10:33 PM
- Confirming some industry speculation, Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) was close to buying Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) when the two entered a stock-swap deal in February -- and it fizzled in part because of Starz' valuation, The Wrap's Jon Erlichman writes.
- John Malone (Starz' biggest shareholder) got a board seat at Lions Gate and Starz got 3.43% of LGF in trade for 4.5% of Starz. But Malone reportedly wanted to make a deal, and Starz had talked with Viacom (VIA, VIAB) Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Fox (FOXA, FOX) last fall, Erlichman says.
- Starz reports earnings tomorrow and any buyer will have to pony up more now than last September: Shares are up more than 30% from their lowest point then, to $38.60 today. If Starz' valuation was a problem for LGF in February, it's bigger now.
- But Starz CEO Chris Albrecht describes the two companies as "kissing cousins" and a consolidating industry may force Malone's hand somewhat.
- Previously: Wolff: Get ready for 'M&A mania' with media consolidation (Apr. 09 2015)
- Previously: Maffei: More might come from Malone-Lions Gate relationship (Mar. 09 2015)
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