Starz Passes 3 Million Streaming Subscriptions In U.S.

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Starz has passed 3 million subscribers in the U.S. on its stand-alone streaming app, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed this morning during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Toronto.

That figure, which is up about 1 million from a year ago at this time, does not include more than one million subscribers across international platforms and through partners. With the $9-a-month service rolling out overseas and boosted by partnerships with Amazon and Hulu, Starz chief Chris Albrecht said last month it could soon be “right there” with rival HBO Now, which has about 8 million global subscribers.

“At Starz, we spent the year continuing to invest in content for African-American, Latinx, female and LGBTQ audiences,” Feltheimer told shareholders, according to a transcript provided to Deadline by the company. He name-checked shows such as Vida, Sweetbitter, Outlander, American Gods and Power. “The result is that demand for Starz content is greater than ever, driving growth in traditional, over-the-top, and international subscribers.”

Feltheimer hit on efforts in the film and television production divisions, asserting that 90% of the company’s films turned a profit in fiscal 2018. Lionsgate also has 60 TV shows in production in 12 global territories, he said, making the company “a prolific intellectual property machine.”

Wrapping up his remarks, Feltheimer called attention to the company’s new mission statement, which was printed on posters on display around the room. “Our goal is simple,” he said, “to continue collaborating with talent in new and exciting ways, and to continue working closely with our partners to reach and entertain a global audience.”

While the $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz, which closed in late 2016, is already paying dividends, many shareholders are wondering about the next move for Lionsgate. The company started the year touting itself as an acquisition target, but since then its stock has dropped more than 30%.

Steven Cahall of RBC Capital Markets recently delivered an upbeat report on the company and has an “outperform” rating on the stock and a 12-month price target of $32 a share, well north of its current level around $23. “Investors care first and foremost about the trajectory of Starz subscriber growth as a proxy to the Starz terminal value,” he wrote. “Following noise from traditional MVPDs in late fiscal 2018 that weighed the shares down, 2019 is off to a more encouraging start.”

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