Bell Media sets launch date for Starz in Canada

In the same announcement, the media company said its flagship SVOD service Crave has hit 2.3 million subscribers.

Bell Media has set March 1 for the launch of its Starz pay TV channel and OTT service.

First announced in January 2018, Starz’ linear channel will replace TMN Encore. According to the most recent CRTC specialty report, TMN Encore had 2.51 million subscribers in 2016.

The linear channel will drop first, before the digital service becomes available the following week as a direct-to-consumer OTT service. This is the first time Bell Media has revealed that Starz will also be offered as an OTT product in Canada. It will cost $5.99 per month and can be accessed through Crave’s website. It will also be available on iOS, Android and Apple TV (fourth generation), with additional platforms to come.

In the same announcement, Bell Media gave a long-awaited update on the subscriber base of its flagship SVOD service, Crave, reporting 2.3 million subscribers. It did not specify how many of those are paid subscriptions (versus those gained through TV bundles). Bell Media recently rebranded Crave both visually and in terms of its offering, introducing a second tier to its subscription and integrating programs from HBO.

Starz specializes in theatrically released films and original TV series, including Vida, Outlander, limited series The Girlfriend Experience and crime drama Power (which currently boasts an average viewership of more than 10 million south of the border). All of those series will have their back catalogues available as part of the Canadian service.

Upcoming originals that will drop in Canada include Now Apocalypse, a coming-of-age drama from stage writer Gregg Araki and director Steven Soderbergh; female-led spy thriller The Rook starring Emma Greenwell and Olivia Munn, and new series Hightown and P-Valley. According to Bell Media, Starz is the U.S.’s second most-watched pay TV service.