Starz finally announces direct-to-consumer service

No. 2 premium cable network Starz will launch an $8.99 direct-to-consumer service, usable on Apple and Google mobile and OTT devices, the company said.

The app will enable consumers without pay-TV subscriptions to view Starz original series including Outlander and Power, as well as Disney film titles including Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With the launch of the Starz app, all three major premium network services, including HBO and Showtime, have gone direct-to-consumer. 

"Starz has entered the market today with an enormous value proposition for consumers," said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in a statement. "Our programing will now be more widely available to the 20 million broadband only homes of cord nevers, cord cutters and cord shavers, including millennials and other underserved consumers who need other viable subscription service options.

Speaking to investors in February, Albrecht tried to assure them that such a streaming product wouldn't lead to cannibalization of Starz's core pay-TV relationships. 

"It's important to note that we continue to have strong and healthy relationships with our MVPD partners," said Albrecht, according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha. "In fact, it is – the fact that premium networks are a good, profitable business for them and more innovation on their part has the potential to make it even more profitable. As I've noted before, this innovation needs to take place in how the operators price, package and market premium networks to both current and prospective subscribers."

The recent pronouncements are in marked contrast from last summer, when a Starz press rep insisted that the company had never — ever! — had any discussions regarding a direct-to-consumer launch.

The launch comes right after Starz's announcement that it will rebrand its Encore channels into what is now Starz Encore.

It also coincides with still-rampant rumors that the company will merge with a larger media conglomerate. 

For more:
- read this Starz press release
- read this New York Times story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this Seeking Alpha transcript

Related articles:
Starz rebranding Encore as Starz Encore
Starz moving 'beyond the traditional cable bundle,' will announce partners in coming weeks
Amazon rolls third-party SVOD services, including Showtime and Starz, into Prime