Starz, Altice Settle Carriage Dispute With New Multiyear Deal

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Starz and Altice have finally settled their carriage dispute with a new multiyear deal.

The premium-TV channel — home to “Outlander” and “Power” (pictured above) — went dark for Altice customers on New Year’s Eve. Now, Starz and Starz Encore are back on for Optimum and Suddenlink cable systems.

This deal also allows for Altice USA to sell the Starz App to their Altice One customers. The agreement grows Starz’s subscriber number, which executives there are happy about.

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“Starz is very pleased that both companies found a mutually beneficial way to expand our relationship over the next several years to offer the best content possible to millions of Altice USA subscribers,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, chief operating officer of Starz. “In addition to the thousands of blockbuster and library movies Starz offers, we believe Altice USA values our company’s programming commitment to create and deliver premium quality original series that serve traditionally underserved audiences. By working together, both companies are in a stronger position to provide the best content and products to our shared customers.”

“Our goal is to give customers the flexibility, choice and entertainment they want at a great value, and we appreciate their patience while we worked to reach a deal that was in their best interest,” said Hakim Boubazine, co-president and chief operating officer of Altice USA. “Through this new expanded arrangement, we are pleased to provide Starz’ wide array of programming on traditional and digital platforms, and look forward to working with Starz to continue to serve the diverse needs of our customer base across the U.S.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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Altice USA Fires Back At Starz FCC Petitions: “No Basis In Fact”

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Altice USA has responded to the two petitions filed with the FCC this month by Starz, seeking relief in the companies’ three-week-old carriage dispute.
Not surprisingly, the response does not hold back, saying one of the two Starz petitions is “untimely and has no basis in fact, law, or policy. It is simply a transparent attempt by Starz to manipulate a regulatory process reserved for emergency situations to secure the carriage it failed to obtain based on the merits of…

Starz Files Petitions With FCC To Get Network Put Back On Altice Cable Systems

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As the StarzAltice USA carriage dispute drags on, the Lionsgate-owned network has filed two separate petitions with the FCC that aim to force the cable company to restore it on New York-area Optimum systems.
The No. 2 premium network has been dark for Optimum’s 4.9 million customers since Jan. 1.
The petitions request the FCC to force Altice to restore carriage of Starz, Starz Encore and Movieplex for the 30-day notice period required under FCC rules. It also asks the…

Telecom Mogul Patrick Drahi Reorganizes Altice in Separate Companies for U.S. and Europe

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Altice NV chairman-CEO Patrick Drahi is reorganizing his cable empire with plans to split the company into separate entities for the U.S. and Europe. The Altice USA division will be spun off from Altice NV. The remaining company will be renamed Altice Europe. Drahi will retain his tight control of both entities, serving as chairman […]

Starz Dropped by Altice USA As Negotiations Fail Over New Licensing Deal

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The Starz premium cable channel was dropped by Altice USA after the two sides failed to reach an agreement for a new carriage deal by the deadline of midnight on December 31.

The cable network put out the following statement:

As of midnight December 31, 2017, Altice USA will no longer carry Starz or StarzEncore programming directly. Despite numerous attempts by Altice USA to reach a deal with Starz for continued carriage in video packages and a la carte carriage, Starz refused all offers, including an offer to extend our current arrangement. “

Starz took out ads in Saturday’s New York Times and New York Post, warning its 4.9 million subscribers across 21 states — much of which serves African-American, Hispanic, women and LGBTQ viewers — of possible blackout come midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Altice is a Netherlands-based multinational telecoms company, founded and headed by the Moroccan-born Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, and the second largest telecoms company in France, behind Orange. It acquired Cablevision in 2016.

Here’s the full Altice statement:

As of midnight December 31, 2017, Altice USA will no longer carry Starz or StarzEncore programming directly. Despite numerous attempts by Altice USA to reach a deal with Starz for continued carriage in video packages and a la carte carriage, Starz refused all offers, including an offer to extend our current arrangement. 

Altice USA provided the following comment:

“We are focused on providing the best content experience for our customers and continually evaluate which channels meet their needs and preferences relative to the cost of the programming imposed by content owners. Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’ own over-the-top streaming service, we don’t believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don’t watch Starz. We believe it is in the best interest of all our customers to replace Starz and StarzEncore programming with alternative entertainment channels that will provide a robust content experience at a great value.”

Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’ own OTT streaming service, and any broadband customer who wants to watch Starz programming can continue to do so by subscribing. For more information, customers can visit Optimum.net/starz

No Optimum or Suddenlink consumer will lose access to Starz since they can subscribe directly with Starz for the service but we are also providing replacement content and programming options for our customers: 

?-? We are launching replacement channels for customers who previously received Starz / StarzEncore as part of a video package. Channels include Hallmark Drama, Sony Movies, MGM HD, HD Net Movies, Flixand Cowboy Channel. Certain customers will also receive a complimentary subscription to TMC.

?-? Customers who previously purchased Starz a la carte will have the option to receive another Premium service or they can purchase the Starz OTT service directly through Starz (for less than what we would be able to charge if we agreed to their terms and demands). 

Background Details on Negotiations:

Since our last contract renewal, Starz began offering a direct to consumer streaming service for $8.99 per month. Given that Starz is available direct to consumer through their subscription service, we have been actively negotiating to reach a deal that makes sense for all our customers, and made numerous offers of increasing value and partnership structures.

Starz wanted an all or nothing-type deal and their insistence on terms would force us to charge customers more than what the Starz OTT product costs — that would not make sense for our customers. Given the limited viewership of Starz amongst our customer base and that consumers can get Starz directly, we believe this approach is in the best interest of all of our customers who otherwise would have seen an impact on prices due to Starz’ demands.

 

We have simply been seeking to do what Starz itself is doing: support a Starz a la carte product, whether through our sales channels or through their OTT service.

We have reached more than two dozen agreements over the last few months that reflect the company’s commitment to both negotiate fairly and keep costs down for customers. In addition to offers to maintain packaged distribution, we proposed extending our a la carte deal in Suddenlink to include Optimum and Starz refused – this despite the fact that Starz has a la carte only deals with other distributors. We also offered to help sell the Starz OTT service to our broadband customers and they refused. We also offered to extend our current agreements.

Sprint, Altice USA Set Wireless Partnership

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Sprint and cable giant Altice USA have set a deal that will allow Altice to provide wireless phone and data services to customers nationwide. The so-called MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) agreement comes a day after Sprint and fellow telecommunications company T-Mobile called off merger talks. The maturation of the wireless services market is putting pressure […]