“We are evaluating what others are doing,” CEO Chris Albrecht told investors yesterday, according to Fierce Cable. “It’s early days. We have yet to see any hard reported data on the benefits of that to brands.”
Instead, the company is putting its efforts behind its companion streaming service Starz Play, which is free for subscribers who get Starz through their cable/satellite providers.
This wait-and-see attitude from Albrecht sounds different from the statements he made almost a year ago, when he declared that premium channels like Starz were seeing “significant value” constrained by cable operators requiring that customers purchase basic pay-TV service before they could get access to the premium networks.
“This is a tide that has to turn,” he said at the time, while also dismissing the notion that standalone streaming services cannibalize the existing customer base.
“Let’s get them in the tent,” Albrecht said in 2014 about cord-cutters and consumers who had never given pay-TV a try. “Let’s give them what they want.”
But now the company is trying to walk back the implied sentiment of those statements.
“We said in October 2014 and have said all along that we will evaluate the fast-moving marketplace,” a Starz rep explained to Fierce Cable. “Our focus is working with our core [pay-TV] distributors in selling Starz, be it through traditional means or working in developing creative ways–i.e., place Starz on top of a skinny video bundle–in tapping new growth opportunities.”
The rep did, however, leave open the option that Starz service could be sold as an add-on through a digital distributor, much like Showtime’s recently launched product is being sold through Hulu and PlayStation, “but we are not going direct-to-consumers at this time.”