Starz Play authenticated streaming apps and website launch, but you might not need them

Earlier this year Starz pulled its online content library back from Netflix and now it's relaunching the old Starz Play branded websites and apps (iOS and WiFi only for now, 3G and Android coming soon) for authenticated streaming, similar to HBO Go and Showtime Anytime. There's also an Encore Play site, and it plans to launch one for its Movieplex channel in the future. Currently, the services only support logins from Cox cable subscribers, but if you're not on that pay-TV provider you may not be missing out after all.

Starz has already licensed its content to providers like Comcast for streaming through its Xfinity website and apps, deals which it tells The Hollywood Reporter cover about 70 percent of its customers. Like HBO and Showtime, this probably is not a prelude to offering its service beyond the tethers of cable and satellite, but as exec Ed Huguez puts it, "it is an expression of (Starz') brand and user interface." That likely only applies domestically however, as Starz also announced it's licensing its content to the cable-free HBO Nordic service, and one can see how building up its technology means it could serve up its own streams internationally some day. Even if you get Starz, if your provider is large enough to handle its own business when it comes to online services this probably won't affect you. However, for customers on smaller cable companies or in the future when deals get renegotiated, you may have another app to add to your drawer for TV Everywhere-style viewing.

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Oct. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Starz Entertainment announced today the launch of the STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY authenticated online services. The company made the announcement with Cox Communications, the first multichannel video provider to offer the service. STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY services are available today for all Cox Communications customers in United States. Starz expects to launch MOVIEPLEX and MOVIEPLEX PLAY with Cox and announce additional launch agreements with its distribution partners in the future.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121008/LA87863)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080522/LATH063LOGO-b)

Along with the upcoming MOVIEPLEX PLAY, today's launch marks the first suite of authenticated online services for pay TV subscribers to the STARZ, ENCORE and MOVIEPLEX premium channels and services. Through its distribution partners, the PLAY services offer Starz Entertainment premium subscribers in the United States portable and online access to the best of its exclusive premium programming.

Movie and original content featured includes "Spartacus," "Magic City," "Boss," new hit movies from Disney and Sony, and one of the strongest libraries of feature film content available from many Hollywood studios.

The new PLAY services will be available free to subscribers of the underlying STARZ, ENCORE, and MOVIEPLEX subscriptions respectively. Each offers subscribers unlimited streaming access to a deep selection of the best in movies and original programming. STARZ and ENCORE are the most popular pair of flagship premium services in the United States with 54.9 million combined subscriptions.

In addition, STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY apps for iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch are available as free downloads from the App Store. The STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY PC/Mac® interfaces are available at www.starzplay.com and www.encoreplay.com. STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY are accessible currently through Wi-Fi and broadband connections. Cellular connectivity and support for Android phones/tablets and gaming consoles are expected to be launched in the future.

"We are very pleased to partner with Cox in launching the STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY suite of authenticated online products that we believe will bring tremendous value to our premium subscribers," said Chris Albrecht, CEO of Starz, LLC. "STARZ and ENCORE have long been pioneers in the deployment of advanced services, being the first premium networks to offer authenticated access to our programing through distributors' online platforms. Now, from big screens to mobile devices, a deep collection of movies and original programming from STARZ and ENCORE provides a winning combination for both our distributors and customers."

"We are thrilled to be the first distributor to provide the STARZ PLAY and ENCORE PLAY suite to our customers, extending the value of Cox TV Online (www.cox.com/tv) across multiple platforms and adding tremendous value to our Advanced TV services," said Mark Greatrex, chief marketing and sales officer, Cox Communications. "What's more, this is a tremendous benefit for our Cox High Speed Internet Bundle customers who now can watch their favorite premium programming anytime, anywhere, all while enjoying the value of Cox's Bundle."

Features/Functionality of the New PLAY Services

STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY offer robust online access to the best of the quality movie, TV, and original series content offered by the respective Starz Entertainment premium services. With a simple and intuitive layout and design, each application offers new ways to enjoy the wide range of premium content offered on the STARZ, ENCORE, and MOVIEPLEX channels and services.

Family members can "PLAY" everything from great Disney family films to the riveting action and intrigue of "Spartacus" on new platforms other than television. Resume functionality allows the user to seamlessly pick up from where they left off in watching a great movie or TV show on any registered device in the account.

Easy set-up of parental controls provides families with options for limiting content accessibility. Menus, screens and commands are optimized for touchscreens to provide a fun, but efficient, means to drop down and swipe through the quality content selection and viewership controls. Facebook and Twitter integrations let fans talk about the latest episode of their favorite STARZ Original series or big hit movie.

Wide Online Content Selection To Great Movies/Originals

Combined, the STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY services offer approximately 1,500 movies, originals, and additional TV content every month.

STARZ PLAY offers approximately 400 monthly selections, including 300 movies comprising first-run films from Disney (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, The Muppets) and Sony (The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, 21 Jump Street, Moneyball) and other great films from a wide selection of Hollywood studios, and 100 episodes of exclusive STARZ Original series, including "Spartacus," "Magic City," and "Boss."

ENCORE PLAY offers about 900 monthly selections, with 300 movies and select originals (Tangled, The Smurfs, "Titanic: Blood and Steel," "Moby Dick"). MOVIEPLEX PLAY (Raging Bull, Godzilla, Ghostbusters) offers additionally about 200 movies every month.

Starz Entertainment is the exclusive subscription television and broadband provider of STARZ Original series including the "Spartacus" franchise, "Magic City," and "Boss," upcoming original series including "Da Vinci's Demons" and "The White Queen," "Black Sails," and quality feature film programming. Exclusive first-run movies are from leading Hollywood studios including Walt Disney Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Disney-Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, TriStar, Screen Gems, Sony Classics, Anchor Bay Films, and Warren Miller Films. Starz licenses hundreds of feature films from a wide array of independent distributors and a vast collection of classic and favorite titles from most Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros., Fox, Universal, MGM and Lionsgate.

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- Comprehensive Agreement Brings "Spartacus" to New Nordic SVOD Pay TV Venture, Exclusive Pay TV/SVOD Rights to "Magic City," "Party Down" and Dozens of Owned and Acquired Movie/TV Content

- HBO Nordic Secures Commitment for Future STARZ Originals

CANNES, France, Oct. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- MIPCOM 2012 -- HBO Nordic, a new multi-platform video distribution venture, which will serve Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark and Peter Ekelund/Parsifal International, today announced a major premium content licensing agreement with Starz Media Worldwide Distribution, a division of Starz Media, LLC, which sells globally STARZ Original series and other owned and licensed movie/TV programming.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100413/STARZLOGO-b)

The comprehensive multi-year agreement brings HBO Nordic a wide selection of premium programming exclusively on pay TV and subscription VOD (SVOD). Included in the deal is the hit STARZ Original series, "Spartacus" for HBO Nordic's SVOD services and the critically acclaimed STARZ Original series, "Magic City," licensed exclusively for pay TV and SVOD. Additional original programming for pay TV and SVOD includes other popular originals ("Party Down," "Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis," "Head Case"), TV movies ("Jersey Shore Shark Attack," The 12 Wishes for Christmas), and TV series ("Painkiller Jane," "Masters of Horror," "Masters of Science Fiction").

HBO Nordic will also exclusively air future STARZ Original series and additional movie content.

"HBO Nordic is very pleased to license a wide collection of original series and other TV and movie content from Starz," said Herve Payan, CEO of HBO Nordic. "'Magic City' was one of the primary featured series aired exclusively at our upcoming launch. We are also very excited to have licensed Spartacus for SVOD, along with several future original series from Starz exclusively for our customers."

"The licensing agreement with HBO Nordic brings a treasure trove of great movie and TV content that should play well to all audiences in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark," said Gene George, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Distribution for Starz Media. "We are thrilled to be continuing our ongoing relationship with HBO abroad, as they launch in Scandinavia and feel privileged that several key Starz properties will be instrumental in their launch. This deal really spotlights the compelling collection of STARZ Original series and other owned/acquired content that we sell to distributors worldwide."

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New Starz Play website and apps stream only to Cox customers, but you might not need them