Starz CEO on Lionsgate Merger: "We Will Be Able to Attract More and Better Talent"
Chris Albrecht discussed the implications for his company's original content strategy and carriage deals after completing the $4.4 billion deal.
Starz will be better at attracting creative talent and monetizing their content when merged with Lionsgate, CEO Chris Albrecht told an investor conference Wednesday, at which he also discussed the premium cable channel joining the Amazon bundle and expanding internationally.
"We will be able to attract more talent, better talent, more effectively control rights and more effectively monetize those rights, and with a combined balance sheet have an opportunity to invest in the kind of things that bring growth," Albrecht told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference 2016 in New York during a session that was webcast.
Albrecht, the former chairman and CEO of HBO, has been with Starz since 2010 and recently renewed his deal with the premium cable network through 2020. His tie-up with Lionsgate should allow Starz, the home of such popular shows as Outlander, Power and Survivor's Remorse, to bulk up to compete in the new digital landscape, the exec told investors.
"The Lionsgate culture and the Starz culture will merge terrifically well together in terms of being partner-friendly and deal-friendly," Albrecht said. "Those guys have built their company through M&A, and it will be fun to be part of that going forward."
Starz also is set to tap Lionsgate's global distribution network to speed up its international expansion. "It is a world game now and we will be able to answer the bell of having an international business that becomes a significant part of the returns of the company in a relatively short period of time," the CEO predicted.
Albrecht also talked about Starz's partnership with Amazon as it distributes its content beyond the traditional cable bundle. The Starz boss said the economics of doing business with Amazon and other streaming services with less infrastructure and overhead was better than with traditional distributors, at least for now.
"Historically, the new guy coming in has always paid more money [for content], and then as they get more subs they look for a buying discount," said Albrecht. "As long as Starz is growing, in the number of subs and in its revenue and in its bottom line, we're providing the returns we need to provide for the shareholders," he added.