Chris Albrecht Stepping Down as Starz CEO

The executive will depart in March. COO Jeffrey Hirsch and the current leadership team will work alongside Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer going forward.
Jessica Sample/Starz
Chris Albrecht

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht is exiting his post. 

The premium cable outlet on Friday announced that Albrecht would depart the network in March, opting to step down more than a year before his current contract expires. Albrecht has been with Starz for nearly a decade, and his exit comes as the network becomes more fully integrated with Canadian entertainment company Lionsgate — which acquired Starz and its various properties in 2016 for $4.4 billion. COO Jeffrey Hirsch and the current leadership team will work alongside Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer going forward.

“Chris’s renowned programming expertise and entrepreneurial abilities have helped build Starz into a premium global brand distinguished by its great shows, fast-growing direct to consumer initiatives, and expanding international footprint,” said Feltheimer. “As we complete the first phase of our evolution into a unified company and accelerate our focus on Starz’s international expansion, Chris has decided to step down to pursue other opportunities. I look forward to working closely with him and Jeff Hirsch to ensure a smooth transition and plan the next steps of the company’s continued growth.”

Albrecht's tenure at Starz saw the network become an aggressive player in both original programming and OTT. With the launch of its streaming service in 2016, it added 3 million subscribers and became an even bigger player in the premium space.  

“I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished the last 10 years building Starz into one of the most exciting premium pay television brands in the industry,” said Albrecht. “As we reach the two-year anniversary of the integration of our two companies and complete the first exciting chapter of our growth together, I’ve decided it is time to move on to new opportunities. I leave Starz in the hands of one of the most gifted executive teams in the business and have great confidence in their continued future success.”

Series greenlit on Albrecht's watch include Magic City, Power, Outlander, American Gods, Counterpart and Survivor's Remorse. But while Starz has enjoyed frequent Golden Globe nominations, Emmys remained elusive — as did cultural cachet, a point of vocal frustration for the executive. After all, he came from the network that redefined cultural relevance for the medium. Albrecht spent 22 years at HBO, ultimately serving as chairman and CEO, where he saw unprecedented success with series such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and The Wire.

Albrecht's exit leaves a pretty ideal void for an executive looking to make a big move. Starz has a substantial programming budget and a widening audience — not terribly common for linear brands.