Starz expands OTT service to Samsung smart TVs

Starz Power
"Power" is an original series from Starz.

Starz said its app now works on select Samsung smart TVs, a move by the media company to further expand the reach of its direct-to-consumer programming.

“The Starz app on Samsung Smart TVs is a single destination for all subscribers who want to stream Starz premium content,” the company said in a release announcing the news. “Its intuitive content discovery design and navigation offers ease of use and a compelling user experience, regardless of how the consumer purchased a subscription to Starz.”

The news comes just a few months after Starz launched its app on Amazon Fire TV. The addition of Amazon Fire TV and Samsung smart TVs came after the Starz app had already launched on Xbox One, Apple TV (4th generation and newer), Android, iOS, Roku and Sony Android TV.

Starz’s standalone service costs $8.99 per month but comes with a seven-day free trial. Starz executives have said the service has attracted about 1 million users.

The addition of Amazon Fire TV and Samsung smart TV devices are noteworthy considering the actions significantly expand Starz’s addressable customer base. Indeed, according to 2016 data from comScore, roughly 16% of Americans use smart TVs as their access point to the internet. Desktop computers lead the way with 97% of comScore’s “Total Home Panel” using the devices, followed by phones at 91%, tablets at 71% and OTT streaming devices at 39%.

“It might come as a surprise to many, for example, that Roku devices are accessed by more households than any other OTT streaming device, including Google Chromecast and Apple TV,” comScore’s Adam Lella wrote on the company’s site. “The three of these devices combine for greater than 80% share of the market, while Amazon Fire TV recently emerged as the third leading player with a 16% share.”

However, 2016 numbers from BI Intelligence show that smart TVs dominate shipments of streaming media devices, accounting for three-quarters of device shipments in 2015. “As people upgrade their TVs, the global installed base of smart TVs will grow from 584 million in 2016 to 896 million in 2021,” the firm wrote.

Starz’s expansion to more devices likely is a major effort for the company. For example, AT&T similarly is working to expand its new DirecTV Now streaming service to more devices, and AT&T’s Enrique Rodriguez said earlier this year that AT&T employs hundreds of people who are working to support current devices and add new ones. “These are nontrivial apps,” he said.