Remember September’s Prediction? Starz is Going HBO Route.

Mari Silbey —  November 18, 2011

Back in September I heard from a source that Starz was not only pulling its content from Netflix, but also planning an app on the HBO Go model. Now we have confirmation from Starz President Chris Albrecht that a mobile app is on the roadmap for 2012. Not only that, but Albrecht said at an investor conference in New York yesterday that Starz is also open to offering a service not tied to a cable TV subscription. This may be a warning shot at operators who are blocking HBO Go on the Roku. If premium content providers like Starz and HBO can’t count on their operator partners to get their content to every paying audience, then they have to look at other distribution options.

On the other side of the coin, I have serious questions about Starz’s ability to go it alone. One option Albrecht reportedly mentioned at yesterday’s conference would be to bundle Starz with a broadband connection rather than with cable TV. But I think Starz would need to offer a pretty sweet deal to make that attractive. Does Starz really have enough desirable content for consumers to pay for the content by itself? The a-la-carte model always sounds good, but it would get expensive awfully quick. And there are only a few channels with enough cache to get consumers pulling out their wallets. ESPN and HBO could maybe pull it off, but Starz? I’m skeptical.

Meanwhile, Albrecht did say that Starz is also in discussions with other distributors like Amazon.com and Blockbuster, even if it’s through with Netflix.

7 responses to Remember September’s Prediction? Starz is Going HBO Route.

  1. “Albrecht said at an investor conference in New York yesterday that Starz is also open to offering a service not tied to a cable TV subscription.”

    That’s actually interesting, if he means selling directly to the customer.

    “One option Albrecht reportedly mentioned at yesterday’s conference would be to bundle Starz with a broadband connection rather than with cable TV.”

    If that’s all he means, it’s much less interesting, because he’s still selling through the MSO.

    Do you have a link for all of this to send me to? I’m curious about what Albrecht was publicly mulling.

    —–

    I’d guess no one is going to dare make a “straight to the customer” move until/if Net Neutrality gets through the judiciary gauntlet and becomes settled law.

  2. “Do you have a link for all of this to send me to?”

    Never mind. Found the link.

  3. Chucky, you try the new email comment subscriptions or are you sticking with RSS?

  4. “Chucky, you try the new email comment subscriptions or are you sticking with RSS?”

    Ain’t nothing better for stuff like this than RSS.

  5. Starz is still at the mercy of telcos and cable companies if they try and do a broadband play: most people are getting high speed internet and TV from the same provider.

    Going it alone is also tricky: do they actually have any movies I can’t get on my TV provider’s VOD service? If they’re offering unlimited viewing with a monthly subscription fee, then that may appeal to heavy viewers.

  6. I would consider it if it was priced right. In other words lower then Netflix and if the quality was good. Spartacus on Netflix was very good quality but the Disney movies were horrible.

    Since me and my wife are Spartacus fans I would sign up only through the season.

  7. I didn’t click through, sorry, but what I heard was Starz was talking about the possibility of selling “Starz Go” thru cable operators, e.g. you would actually buy it from Comcast who would then get their cut of the $13.95/month or whatever fee. I guess the idea is to keep Comcast from being upset with them and doing something bad (dropping the channel, raising its price, or simply stop advertising it like DirecTV did at one point with The Movie Channel and apparently hurt their subscriptions quite a bit). I’m not sure it would actually be enough of course, since Comcast wants CABLE customers, meaning full boat $100/month customers, not just a few bucks from Starz. I guess we’ll see. But that MIGHT be an option which would allow this to start a roll-out without igniting a war with MSOs.