Lionsgate could close Starz sale by end of fiscal year, holds back from international streaming expansion

Lionsgate could be in a position to close the sale of its channels and streaming business by the end of its current fiscal year, and will look closely at the value of its existing international distribution in order to maximise its value, according to CEO Jon Feltheimer.

Speaking after the US studio announced its fiscal first quarter results at the end of last week, Feltheimer said the studio was in discussions with potential buyers to “separate the value” of its streaming businesses and has found that some investors “really like the fact that we’ve got this very specific targeted platform”.

He said that Lionsgate was “already making money in our domestic streaming business” and had decided not to expand into new territories internationally but rather to assess the market in its existing territories.

“Instead of adding new territories, which everybody is doing, we’re actually going the other way. We’re scrubbing each territory to make sure it’s somewhere we need to be,” he said.

Potential buyers in the frame for Starz and streaming offering Starzplay include France’s Canal+. Other potential bidders include streaming device maker Roku.

Feltheimer said that there were sets of investors who saw the value in each side of the business – the studio and the streaming platforms – separately. He indicated that some investors could also be interested in “the immense value” of Lionsgate’s library, particularly following Amazon’s acquisition of MGM.

“Our library is honestly better than the MGM library. It’s newer and fresher,” he said, adding that Lionsgate was looking at ways of highlighting the value of that library.

“We still have to create a vehicle so that we can value both sides separately,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

He said that Lionsgate was on track “to potentially close the transaction as early as the end of our fiscal year”.

Deeper into existing markets

Jeffrey Hirsh, president and CEO of Starz, said that Starzplay was seeing “a lot of great momentum in distribution deals” and emphasised that “instead of launching new markets, we’re going deeper in existing markets where there are more consumers”.

Hirsh said that the studio was on track to achieve 50-60 million streaming customers worldwide by 2025

Lionsgate’s media networks global subscribers increased to 37.3 million, including Starzplay Arabia, its non-consolidated joint venture in the Middle East.

The company said its increased subscriber count was driven by robust international and domestic streaming subscriber growth.

Global streaming subscribers increased 57% year-over-year to 26.3 million. Starzplay International subscribers grew 100% year-over-year to 14 million, while the company’s domestic OTT count was up 26%.

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