Starz strikes deal to hold on to Sony Pictures

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Starz has struck a new agreement that will keep theatrical movies from Sony Pictures on the pay-TV channel through 2021.

The deal comes just over two months after Netflix outbid Starz for the right to movies from Walt Disney Co. Netflix had also made no secret of its desire to land Sony Pictures as well. That made keeping Sony crucial for Starz, which was recently spun off into a public company by Liberty Media.

While terms of the agreement were not disclosed, a person familiar with the matter said the pact is typical of most pay-TV output contracts. Typically, pay-TV providers pay from 10% to 12% of the total U.S. box office earnings of each film, up to a cap of $200 million.


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However, given that Netflix was eager to land Sony too, there was likely heavy bidding that drove costs up higher. When Netflix landed Disney, the figures floated around were between $300 million and $400 million a year.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said in a regulatory filing on the deal that “while we cannot comment on the specifics of the new Sony agreement, we believe the terms are consistent with other recent agreements between traditional premium TV networks and major Hollywood studios.”

Sony was the last major studio with a contract coming up for renewal. Last month, Time Warner’s HBO struck a new long-term accord with Universal Pictures.

“We are thrilled to extend our exclusive partnership into the next decade,” said Albrecht in a statement.

While Starz is trying to follow in the footsteps of HBO and Showtime by making its its mark with original programming, movies are still a vital pipeline of product.



Netflix grabs rights to Disney movies

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.


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