Premium cabler Starz has promoted chief operating officer Jeffrey Hirsch to CEO and president of the network, effective immediately. The move follows the exit of former Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in February.
“Jeff continues to lead Starz’s transformation into one of the world’s premier subscription platforms,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in a release. “He has a clear strategic vision, great understanding of where our business is headed and strong relationships that will all contribute to Starz’s continued strong growth and evolution.”
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In his new role, Hirsch will be in charge of shaping Starz’s overall business and programming strategy, and drive its expansion internationally. He joined the network four years ago as president of global marketing and product development, was promoted to COO in 2016, and has been running Starz for nearly a year, according to the company. Hirsch was a key player in the integration of Starz into Lionsgate after the late 2016 acquisition.
During his tenure, Starz’s domestic subscriber base has grown to 24.7 million from 23.5 million over the past year; its streaming service has 4.4 million over-the-top subscribers in the U.S.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to lead Starz into the future alongside Jon and our team,” said Hirsch. “Over the last several years Starz has been on the leading edge of innovation across our industry, transitioning to a digital world with the launch of our App and OTT business and most recently through the expansion of our global footprint. As our evolution continues, our remarkable line-up of premium original series and vast library of content will drive both our domestic and international growth as we look to capture new audiences and subscribers around the world.”
Two weeks ago, Feltheimer touted to shareholders that Starz had expanded to nearly 50 countries ahead of schedule and grew its subscriber base by 1.5 million within the year, expressing bullishness in the platform. Starz had recently been the subject of M&A chatter, with CBS reportedly expressing potential interest in bringing the cabler in to the fold, but the Viacom-CBS merger has made that unlikely in the near term, as the newly combined company focuses inward during the transition.