Will Comcast Drop Starz?

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Q. Is there any update on Comcast and Starz? I know they were planning to get rid of Starz, but they were still talking about a new deal. What’s the latest? — Fran, Boston. 

Fran, Comcast announced in October that on December 4 it would add the Epix premium channel to most programming packages. But on December 10, it would remove all 17 Starz channels (including Encore) from those packages, effectively replacing the channel with Epix. (Starz is the home of such shows as Outlander and Power.)

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To keep Starz, Comcast said, you would have to order it separately. And at the end of the month, you wouldn’t even be able to do that. The cable operator planned to drop it completely unless it could reach a new agreement with the premium channel.

Well, Fran, I have good news for you. The two companies yesterday announced they had reached a new carriage pact.

Under the terms of the new agreement, Starz will remain in Comcast’s programming packages for a period of time until it becomes an a la carte channel in the cable operator’s lineup. The announcement did not specify how long it would stay in the programming packages, but The Wall Street Journal reports that it will stay there until the finish of the current season of Power in early February 2020.

After the conclusion of Power, Comcast subscribers will be able to keep watching Starz by ordering it separately for $8.99 a month.

If you recall, the outcome is what I predicted last October when the dispute began:

“In carriage talks with Starz, it (Comcast) will only agree to terms that include Starz as a separate channel. There are very few, if any, pay TV operators that bundle two premium channels in their regular programming packages. In fact, offering even one is rare.
And now that Comcast has said it will include Epix, there’s really no room left for Starz,” I wrote on October 17.

So Fran, I hope that helps. Happy viewing!

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