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Starz - ‘Premium Female’

Starz shuffles its content proposition for its new target audience, ‘Premium Female’

Last Friday (July 26th) at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch outlined the US pay TV channel’s new content strategy, and their focus on ‘Premium Female’. This target audience are aged 24-54 and are “a little more economically viable than other segments”. Starz identify this demographic as being an underserved audience and their push into this market segment is largely because others aren’t.

The J.K. Simmons led ’Counterpart’ was cancelled by the cable network after 2 seasons, despite having a 100% critics score from Rotten Tomatoes. The show was deemed to be too complicated and inaccessible for their viewers. ‘Now Apocalypse’ has also been cancelled after just 1 season, on the basis of its audience skewing strongly male.

In their place are a number of new series commissions intended to appeal directly to the ‘Premium Female’ audience. ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is an adaptation of the French novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Starz' leading series ‘Power’ (whose audience already skews 65% female) is to be expanded with the hopes of turning it into a bigger franchise and its own universe, with Mary J. Blige announced for the spin-off ‘Power Book II: Ghost’. These shows will sit alongside existing series with strong female leads, such as ‘Vida’, ‘Sweetbitter’, ‘Spanish Princess’ and ‘The Rook’.

Lionsgate’s ownership of Starz is no barrier to them doing deals with other studios, with it being stated that they have bought more shows in the past 4 months than they had in the past year.

How this shift in target audience in the US to ‘Premium Female’ will affect the StarzPlay OTT service remains to be seen. StarzPlay is now available in over 50 international markets and is the exclusive destination for all Starz Originals. The movement towards ‘Premium Female’ is likely to impact upon future Originals commissioning - will StarzPlay mirror the US cable network with a more female orientated library, or will they become more active buyers of content from other studios?

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