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The exit of Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has thrown a spotlight on the future of the premium channel in a hotly competitive and fast-evolving pay-TV environment.
The bigger question centers on the fate of parent company Lionsgate, nearly two years after its $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz. Albrecht disclosed Feb. 1 that he will depart in March after a nine-year run building up the service that was owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media until it was spun off as a stand-alone entity in January 2013.
Albrecht - Starz - Act - Pay-TV - Arena
Albrecht came to Starz as his second act in the pay-TV arena after a 22-year run at HBO. He leaves Starz a bigger and broader business, albeit one that faces sector-wide headwinds in the coming years.
“We believe, strategically, losing a golden asset like Albrecht leaves a big talent hole in the franchise, and in our opinion this could be another step toward an eventual sale of the company down the road,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Variety via email. “We continue to believe that Lionsgate is an attractive asset for a number of players looking to aggressively add content and streaming ambitions, with Apple front and center.”
Lionsgate - M - A - Target - Time
Lionsgate has been widely seen as an M&A target at a time of consolidation among media’s largest players. Lionsgate shares are down nearly 50% during the past 12 months as investors await some movement for the company. Insiders maintain that the Santa Monica-based studio’s focus under CEO Jon Feltheimer is on organic growth of existing operations, especially in overseas markets. Starz and its budding OTT streaming platform are a big component of that international strategy.
Albrecht’s team steered the launch of the Starz stand-alone streaming app in 2016. It now claims about 3 million subscribers across the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Canada, with expansion on deck in France, Italy and Spain....
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