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Bell Media brings Starz to Canada for first time

Canada’s Bell Media has teamed with Lionsgate to bring in its premium pay television platform Starz to a Canadian audience and gain first-window rights to future Lionsgate theatrical releases.

Albrecht_Chris_MAINThe agreement is a move by Starz and Bell Media to compete for premium subscribers on all platforms, and adds to Bell Media’s suite of subscription services.

These include pay television network The Movie Network Encore (TMN Encore), which will be rebranded in early 2019, with a slate of premium Starz programming and a broad selection of Lionsgate hit films and television series added.

The collaboration with Starz parent Lionsgate also encompasses future exclusive first-window access to the studio’s slate of Hollywood movies. All Lionsgate films will also be available to subscribers of Bell Media’s French-language Pay TV service, Super Écran.

This marks the first international launch of Starz since Lionsgate acquired the network in December 2016. The channel will be introduced across Bell Media platforms, including TMN and Canada’s premium streaming service Crave TV.

The newly branded service will also be available on a direct-to-consumer basis.

“We’re delighted to bring Starz to Canada as part of our international channel rollout,” said Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht (pictured).

“Bell Media is one of North America’s elite content companies, and they bring great brand recognition, a massive consumer base, and unparalleled distribution skills to our alliance. This agreement creates the perfect foundation for the growth of Starz in the territory.”

Starz already has an international SVOD service, Starz Play, which has performed strongly in the Middle East and is set for further rollout this year.

Starz is not the first US premium pay TV channel to launch in Canada. HBO Canada has operated in the territory for a decade, while CBS Corp.’s Showtime debuted locally after a deal with Bell in 2015.

The news also comes a day after Rogers Media and Vice Canada agreed to terminate their joint venture, a move that will mean Viceland stops linear broadcasting in the territory.