Altice USA and Lionsgate-owned Starz have ended a six-week impasse and set a new multi-year affiliate deal, concluding the year’s first big carriage dispute.
Under the agreement, Altice will offer the full suite of Starz and Starz Encore premium linear and HD channels, On-Demand, HD On-Demand and online services across its Optimum and Suddenlink cable systems. The agreement also allows for Altice USA to sell the Starz App to their customers on the new Altice One entertainment service, as well as broader digital rights including TV Everywhere. The deal also secures Starz packaging position and expands its subscriber base.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The direct-to-consumer app offered by Starz, the premium network behind shows like Power and Outlander, had become a flash point in the dispute. Altice suggested that Optimum customers could continue to enjoy Starz via the app, a response that got industry-wide attention as programmers look to re-bundle their offerings and re-examine relationships with traditional distributors. Those re-assessments come with a multitude of sensitivities as customer habits continue to shift.
“Our goal is to give customers the flexibility, choice and entertainment they want at a great value, and we appreciate their patience while we worked to reach a deal that was in their best interest,” said Hakim Boubazine, co- president and COO of Altice USA. “Through this new expanded arrangement, we are pleased to provide Starz’ wide array of programming on traditional and digital platforms, and look forward to working with Starz to continue to serve the diverse needs of our customer base across the U.S.”
“Starz is very pleased that both companies found a mutually beneficial way to expand our relationship over the next several years to offer the best content possible to millions of Altice USA subscribers,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, COO of Starz. “In addition to the thousands of blockbuster and library movies Starz offers, we believe Altice USA values our company’s programming commitment to create and deliver premium quality original series that serve traditionally underserved audiences. By working together, both companies are in a stronger position to provide the best content and products to our shared customers.”
The impasse, which started in the early hours of New Year’s Day, dragged on for weeks amid high levels of acrimony. When Lionsgate announced its quarterly earnings last week, though, Starz chief Chris Albrecht expressed hope that a deal was “imminent.”
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