Starz app starts streaming on Vizio smart TVs

The Starz app has been added to Vizio smart TVs, expanding access to millions of Americans, the OEM announced Monday.

Starz offers on-demand shows and original series such as “Outlander” and “P-Valley” along with box office hits including “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” among others.

Vizio users can access Starz monthly and annual subscriptions directly from the Vizio home screen.

“We are excited to bring our Starz app to Vizio Smart TVs making our premium programming available to millions of users throughout the country,” said Alison Hoffman, president of Domestic Networks at Starz, in a statement. “From our robust slate of original series dedicated to amplifying narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences, and our library that features some of the biggest movies, Starz is delighted to bring our award-winning programming to the Vizio platform for viewers to enjoy in an easy, frictionless way.”

Last week Starz parent Lionsgate reported its most recent quarterly earnings, including streaming subscribers for its OTT platform. In the fiscal 2023 first quarter, Starz added 1.8 million streaming subscribers, including 700,000 domestically. Starz domestic OTT subscriber tally stood at 12.2 million as of the end of June, with 24.4 million total OTT Starz subscribers. Starz linear domestic subscribers declined by 300,000 in the period and now stands at 9.2 million.

It ended the period with 37.3 million total global subscribers across OTT and linear, including StarzPlay Arabia which reached 14 million (with 12.2 million coming from OTT). Total global media networks’ OTT subscribers grew to 26.3 million, marking year over year subscriber growth of 57%.

During the quarterly earnings call Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer called out the gains despite industry headwinds, giving credit to the platform’s differentiated offering with focused original programming and a strong slate of Play 1 output and library titles.

“With a majority of the [2022] slate, underpinned by series returning for second and third seasons, we’re confident in our ability to continue our subscriber momentum, acquiring new subscribers, and extending the lifetime value of our existing subscriber base,” said Feltheimer, according to a transcript.

He called out the debut of “Power Book IV: Force,” saying all three Power spinoffs have become hits. Meanwhile, drama “P-Valley” hit record ratings in its second season, making it one of Starz most widely viewed series ever, while fan favorite “Outlander” had its sixth successful season.

Lionsgate announced it has teed up a prequel to “Outlander,” written and produced by showrunner Matthew B. Roberts.

Feltheimer also pointed to continued expansion of Starz distribution globally, including the new deal for Vizio smart TVs in the U.S.  In the quarter the company disclosed a bundling deal with Disney in Latin America, following other international partners including Viaplay in the Nordics.

“As we've been saying, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of where the industry is heading, and Starz will be a critical and desirable part of bundles and packages, with a growing number of platforms and devices,” Feltheimer said.

His comments come as Hub Entertainment Research spotlighted consumers’ high preference for bundles, with over half (52%) saying video aggregation – or having access to multiple services via a single device – makes the viewing experience “a lot” better.

Asked by investment analysts about churn on Starz, Jeffrey Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, said the strategy has been focused on driving churn down to low single digits by lining up content to its core demos every week, 52 weeks a year.

Before taking on the strategy for the past few years, post-season “Power” churn was “somewhere north of 40%” he said, and it’s now below 15%.

“So we continue to see churn come down in the single digits, we continue to see it come down to all-time lows,” Hirsch continued. “And we think as we continue to roll through this content slate, lining up the content every week for the two core demos, we’ll continue to see it get down to that low single digits.”

Maturing series expected to help improve profits

Feltheimer also sees Lionsgate and Starz as somewhat shielded from recessionary pressure in terms of its TV segment, which saw a year over downtick in revenue to reach $381.2 million as lower domestic linear revenue was offset by growth in domestic streaming and international revenue. 

Profits in Lionsgate’s media networks segment decreased to a loss of $37 million in the period, compared to a profit of $88.2 million in the same quarter a year ago. The company said losses were driven by the timing of programming accounting and marketing costs related to recent Starz original premieres.

However, Starz has a number of series now moving into additional or later seasons rather than launching brand-new series. This year the TV group segment profit is on track to increase by over 50% on improving margins, according to Feltheimer, with stronger gains anticipated in 2023 (Lionsgate's fiscal 2024) as series continue to mature. More than 30 of the company’s new series were picked up in the past three years, with 90% of them renewed for additional seasons.

“When you think in a recessionary period, frankly, it's a lot less expensive for networks and platforms to renew shows than actually to spend the $15 million or $20 million or more to launch new ones,” he said. “And so we think, again, in that sense, we’re a little bit insulated from recessionary pressure.”