The project to be announced “soon” will be the first half-hour sitcom developed by Starz since CEO Chris Albrecht took charge in 2010, he told analysts today. (Earlier Starz had comedies including Head Case, Party Down, and Gravity.) But it doesn’t represent a shift from his focus on dramas. Albrecht says he plans to “tread cautiously” and won’t “open the floodgates” to hear pitches for comedies that were rejected elsewhere. Speaking broadly about his originals, Albrecht says that “we look at all of these shows as individual businesses.” He’s cool to adding sports. “The investment is great, and the return is de minimus,” he says. And while he loves documentaries, “they’re found all over the dial” and he doesn’t yet see one that he believes would work for his premium networks. For the most part Albrecht used his call to reinforce his belief that Starz can thrive as an independent company. He said that Starz has a new deal with MGM for older films in the library, including titles from the Rocky and James Bond franchises. That follows a similar deal announced this week with Fox. He also noted that Starz recently cut distribution deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. Albrecht says he’s confident that his company will be fine if pay TV companies consolidate. “We are actually a revenue source for the operators…They make money because we make money.” Still, he acknowledged the widely held view that it’s just a matter of time before Starz cuts a merger deal of its own. “We’re always mindful that there are potential synergistic relationships with other companies. Should we have anything to discuss around that, you’ll be among the first to know.” Starz shares are up 6.9% mid-day after it released stronger-than-expected Q2 earnings.
Starz Prepares To Develop A Comedy But Will “Tread Cautiously”
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