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Starz launches a streaming service for cord cutters with support for downloads

TechCrunch TechCrunch 5/04/2016 Sarah Perez

Another premium cable TV network, Starz, is taking the plunge into the streaming video market with today’s launch of its own standalone streaming service, aimed at cord cutters. The move follows the launches of HBO’s over-the-top offering, HBO NOW, introduced last year, as well as a similar effort by Showtime. However, Starz’ service will differentiate itself by providing access to both streaming content and downloads, the company notes, and a lower price.

This is the first time the company has made its content library available through a subscription service, but unlike with HBO, it’s not breaking out its streaming service into a separate application. HBO, as you may recall, maintains two applications: HBO GO for cable TV subscribers and HBO NOW for those who stream its programming over the web.

Instead, Starz says that its single, all-in-one application will be used to offer access to the streaming service, access by authenticated “TV Everywhere” subscribers (those with a traditional cable TV or satellite subscription), and it will offer access for digital retail sales.

Also unlike rivals HBO and Showtime, Starz’ service is coming in at a lower price point. Where HBO costs $14.99/month and Showtime is $10.99/month, Starz is a more competitive $8.99/month. Of course, the network doesn’t have a breakout success like HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” for example, which could justify asking top dollar.

At launch, the programming lineup involves over 2,400 selections monthly, including its series “Outlander,” “Power” and the upcoming “American Gods.” However, it will be bringing in several notable Hollywood movies, like “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and later this year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Once subscribed, up to four users can watch via the app simultaneously. The app is initially available for iOS, Apple TV, and Android.

The company is also heavily promoting how its app will allow users to download content for offline viewing. While this is definitely a great feature to have – especially if you plan to be somewhere with poor service, or without an internet connection, like an airplane. However, it’s not quite a streaming industry first.

Amazon Prime Video last fall began allowing users to download select titles for offline viewing as well – something that it hoped would help it stand out from Netflix. Unfortunately, in Amazon’s case, it’s a limited selection of its larger catalog. Starz, meanwhile, is promoting “virtually unlimited downloads.” Also like Amazon, the downloads are only accessible while you remain a paying subscriber.

“Starz has entered the market today with an enormous value proposition for consumers. Our programing will now be more widely available to the 20 million broadband only homes of cord nevers, cord cutters and cord shavers, including Millennials and other underserved consumers who need other viable subscription service options,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in a statement.

The new service is launching today, and will allow signups from the app or via the web.

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