Jeffrey Hirsch, who has been running Starz for the past several months, now has the formal title to go with his job.
Hirsch has been elevated to president and CEO of the premium cable outlet. He had served as COO since 2016 and took over as head of the network following Chris Albrecht’s departure in March.
“Jeff continues to lead Starz’s transformation into one of the world’s premier subscription platforms,” Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Starz parent Lionsgate, said Thursday in a statement. “He has a clear strategic vision, great understanding of where our business is headed and strong relationships that will all contribute to Starz’s continued strong growth and evolution.”
Said Hirsch, “I am excited to have the opportunity to lead Starz into the future alongside Jon and our team. Over the last several years, Starz has been on the leading edge of innovation across our industry, transitioning to a digital world with the launch of our app and OTT business and most recently through the expansion of our global footprint. As our evolution continues, our remarkable lineup of premium original series and vast library of content will drive both our domestic and international growth as we look to capture new audiences and subscribers around the world.”
Albrecht left Starz after nearly a decade that saw the former HBO executive greatly expand the outlet’s original programming with series like Power, Outlander and American Gods. He and Feltheimer, however, “saw things very differently” on how the business should be run, a source told The Hollywood Reporter after Albrecht’s departure was announced, with Feltheimer seeking more integration with Lionsgate.
Hirsch joined Starz in 2015 as president global marketing and product development and became COO the following year. He shepherded the launch of the Starz app in the U.S. and the expansion of the StarzPlay service to more than 50 countries abroad. Starz has 24.7 million domestic subscribers, including 4.4 million for its OTT service.
Hirsch told THR at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in July that Starz would target “premium female” viewers going forward, as the channel has the highest composition of women viewers in premium cable.
“You look at the audience for Outlander and that’s the perfect audience for us,” said the exec. “We’ve done a lot of research around that and figured out that women are twice as likely to buy apps that are under $10; they’re more loyal; their lifetime value on a digital side is much longer. Whether we were smart enough to figure that out or we backed into it, we’ve seen it and are now leaning into it in a big way.”
Since Hirsch took over running the network, Starz has greenlit a Power spinoff starring Mary J. Blige; an adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons; a third season of The Girlfriend Experience; and a pro wrestling/family drama starring Arrow‘s Stephen Amell. It also is co-producing a Howards End miniseries with the BBC that will star Hayley Atwell.