Starz is looking to double the growth of its streaming service internationally over the next two years but COO Jeffrey Hirsch warns that companies don’t have to spend $13B on content like Netflix to succeed in a digital world.
“Netflix has done a phenomenal job of convincing everyone in this room and everyone on Wall Street that unless you spend $13B you can’t compete and you should just take your ball and go home, but that’s just not the case,” he said.
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The company’s Starzplay service, which is overseen by Superna Kalle, is available in over 50 countries in Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa and Hirsch is confident of more growth. “We’re not stopping there. In the next two to three years, we think we’ll double that number. Starz went from being a domestic only platform to being available in 50 countries over just a year.
He claimed that the company had “created a first mover advantage” against some of its rivals, which he said gives it a “two to three year window ahead of our competition in the global arena”. “While others are still working to launch their services here at home, we’re establishing a subscriber base and a globally recognized brand, fueled by our growing line up of original series and a vast library of award winning fan favorite films,” he said.
Starz’ original series are increasingly featuring an international element with many of its new titles airing on Starzplay outside of the U.S. as opposed to selling first-run rights to international broadcasters.
For example, its remake of Dangerous Liaisons, which Deadline revealed earlier today that had been handed a series order, will be available via the Starzplay international streaming service via the Apple TV app in Europe and Latin America and via a number of other platforms.
This has also impacted its programming strategy. The third season of The Girlfriend Experience, the Steven Soderbergh-produced drama, was originally going to be set in Seattle but Starz believed setting it in the tech world in London would have greater global appeal.
“We are a global platform now so everything we look at has to serve us on a global basis,” Hirsch said “Everything that we look has to service the global footprint.”
Hirsch was bullish that subscribers would continue to buy Starz in a digital world with an increasing number of streaming services. He said it had a lot of “room to run”. “Ultimately, I think people will have four or five services in their home and Starz has always been, as HBO and Showtime, that premium on top of basic television. If Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are trying to replace television, we’re again happy to be sold on top of it,” he added.
This comes as Starz spelt out its female-focused strategy in its most blunt terms. Hirsch said that if a show doesn’t serve its “core premium female audience” then “we need to find something else”.
This is, in part what lead to the cancellation of both Now Apocalypse and Counterpart, and was particularly prevalent with Mary J. Blige emerging into the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton to be welcomed as the star of the forthcoming Power spin-off.