Lionsgate acquires Starz: Why the studio wants the 'Outlander' network

Studio Lionsgate has said it will purchase Starz, which is home to such TV programs as 'Outlander' and 'Power.' 

Starz
'Outlander' stars Caitriona Balfe (l.) and Sam Heughan (r.).

Studio Lionsgate is purchasing Starz, the TV network best known for hits like “Outlander" and "Power."

Lionsgate is best known in film for such franchises as the “Hunger Games” series, the “Divergent” movies, and the “Expendables” films. 

Like many other cable networks, Starz began moving forward with original TV series in the last several years, creating such shows as the “Spartacus” TV series.

The TV network debuted the historical drama “Outlander” in 2014, which has gone on to set ratings records for the network. The show “Power,” which centers on a man (Omari Hardwick) who is in charge of a nightclub but also has another identity as a well-known drug dealer, has also experienced good numbers for viewers. 

Meanwhile, Lionsgate is far from a stranger to TV. Hit shows like “Orange Is the New Black” and “Mad Men” have aired on TV networks like Netflix and AMC, respectively, but Lionsgate produced them and helped bring them to the screen.

It is also currently producing such programs as “Greenleaf” on OWN, Hulu’s “Casual,” and ABC’s “Nashville” (which was recently canceled but which will return on CMT). 

Some industry watchers interpret Lionsgate purchasing Starz as the duo's attempt to take on popular cable networks such as HBO and Showtime even more than Starz already has.

“Adding a cable channel could help provide scale at a time when other studios have been swallowed up by bigger entertainment giants, while providing ballast for a sometimes volatile movie business,” New York Times writers Michael J. de la Merced and John Koblin wrote of Lionsgate’s decision. “Within the competitive space of original programming, Starz has moved from an also-ran to a formidable player in just the last few years.” They note that Starz will soon start airing new shows on Sundays, a time when HBO and Showtime often air new episodes of their programs as well.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Littleton of Variety wrote, “Starz will give Lionsgate a strong platform to launch series that can be sold around the world. Starz is at the outset of expanding its reach internationally.”

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