Comcast avoided a year-end blackout of Starz, reaching an agreement Monday with the premium channel that also includes a deal to license content from its parent Lionsgate for the cable giant’s upcoming streaming service Peacock.
Comcast’s deal with Starz was set to expire on Dec. 31. Talks were apparently stalled earlier over pricing of the premium service, which oftentimes is higher than what the channel charges for its standalone streaming app. Comcast had started to notify customers in October that it would drop the Starz channels in early December in favor of an expanded agreement with another premium service, Epix. When some local governments objected, Comcast agreed to keep the channels on its lineup at least until Dec. 31. Starz is in the middle of the final season of top series Power, which returns for the final five episodes on Jan. 5, and is expected to stay on Xfinity lineups for the finale.
Under the new agreement, the Starz flagship premium channel, as well as the Starz Encore suite of channels -- including Encore, Encore Westerns, Encore Black, and Encore Action -- and related video on demand content will continue to be available to Xfinity customers with expanded distribution on the Comcast Flex platform and a path for an orderly transition to an à la carte business.
“We are pleased that we were able to extend the partnership to Peacock and other businesses within Comcast while also ensuring Xfinity customers continue to enjoy great Starz programming,” said Comcast Cable president of consumer services Dana Strong in a press release.
NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service Peacock, scheduled for an April launch, will also license content from Starz parent Lionsgate as part of the deal, with access to hundreds of feature films and shows from the Lionsgate catalog to stream alongside the previously announced slate of original series, TV shows, and films from Universal and other major studios. NBCUniversal will also license content to Starz to be featured in the U.S. and on its international streaming service, StarzPlay, now available in 49 countries.
“We look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Comcast to deliver great content and great value to our customers,” said Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch in a press release. “Our ongoing relationship with Comcast reflects our ability to unlock opportunities across all of our businesses to the benefit of our subscribers.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.