Starz VOD Service Adds Key Cable Carriage


Starz Encore Group LLC landed two key cable carriage deals for its core services and its nascent video-on-demand offering last week.

Starz and Insight Communications Co. announced an affiliation-and-carriage agreement for the STARZ! and Encore movie channels and the Starz on Demand subscription VOD service.

Starz also extended its long-term affiliation carriage agreement with Charter Communications Inc. for Starz Super Pak and Encore Movie Pak. As part of the deal, Charter will also launch Starz on Demand as part of an on-demand platform rolling out in select cable systems — the biggest cable launch so far for the Starz SVOD service.

The releases were timed to coincide with an investor day held in New York by Starz Encore parent Liberty Media.

The on-demand version of Starz has not really caught on with cable operators to date. Announced carriage deals so far have been with Adelphia Communications Corp., on a free SVOD platform in Cleveland and Bethel Park, Ohio, and with Altrio, an overbuilder in the Los Angeles area. Starz On Demand had been on a few Comcast Corp. systems but the plug got pulled on those as a result of Comcast's litigation with Starz Encore over its affiliation contract with the former AT&T Broadband.

All Insight digital VOD systems will gain the Starz On Demand content lineup, which features more than 100 monthly movies, including newer releases XXX
and The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers. Insight will charge for $10 monthly for all of the Starz services, including East and West Coast feeds of STARZ! and themed channels.

In the SVOD arena, Charter currently offers Showtime and HBO on-demand services in St. Louis and HBO on Demand in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. A Starz spokesman said Starz on Demand will be added in St. Louis and that Starz expects to be in a majority of Charter's VOD systems.

Insight has offered a $6.99 monthly Kids Unlimited package of on-demand children's content for some time, but the Starz deal marks the first time the MSO will offer on-demand premium movie content.

"We are planning to get HBO and Showtime on demand launched as well," added spokeswoman Kim Messina.