Starz May Be Sold Soon — Roku, Apollo Among Bidders

Roku continues to make big moves in the ever-changing streaming landscape. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company is among those that have put in bids to buy a minority stake in the cable and streaming service Starz, along with Apollo Global Management. The news comes hot on the heels of The Roku Channel striking a streaming deal with Lionsgate — which just so happens to own Starz — to send the studio's latest films to the service after they premiere on Starz.

This news isn't exactly shocking. Lionsgate has reportedly been looking to explore a sale or spinoff of Starz since it acquired the cable network for $4.4 billion in 2016. At a time when services like Netflix are struggling to grow their subscriber base, Starz has continued to perform well thanks to the success of Starzplay Arabia. The SVOD streamer, which services customers in the Middle East and North Africa, enjoyed a 44 percent year-to-year increase in the last three months of 2021.

Lionsgate is stepping up its game

2022 hasn't been a great year for Lionsgate, so far as its theatrical releases go. The studio's sci-fi disaster thriller "Moonfall" was a record-setting box office bomb while "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," its meta-comedy starring Nicolas Cage as a fictional version of himself, has struggled to draw a crowd in spite of its positive reviews. All the same, it's looking to step up its game in the months to come, between its Roku streaming deal and potential Starz sale.

It helps that Starz, like Lionsgate, has an original programming slate that's very different from those of its competitors. With well-reviewed shows like the socially-aware dramedy "Blindspotting," the strip club drama "P-Valley," and the wrestling drama "Heels," the cabler offers the type of niche, adult-targeted series that viewers would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Of course, Starz also comes with the extremely popular historical fantasy romance "Outlander," which is going strong as ever (in terms of viewership, anyway) and now has a prequel show in the works.

Elsewhere, Lionsgate is in the process of expanding the highly-lucrative "John Wick" franchise, with "John Wick: Chapter 4" arriving in 2023 and its prequel-spinoff miniseries, "The Continental," in the pipeline at Starz (which would be far more exciting if it weren't for a certain bit of casting). The studio also has a prequel movie to "The Hunger Games," "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," on the docket for 2023, and may yet look to continue the property in other ways.

Will Lionsgate deepen its relationship with Roku between now and then, via a deal for Starz? As always, /Film will keep you updated as more details are made available.