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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 15, 2011

AT&T U-verse Makes Deal with Starz for Content

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

When it comes to catching up with sites like Netflix for streaming video content by subscription, the name of the game is becoming “content.” As hardware and software makers scramble to compete, they are desperately trying to land partnerships with content providers so they have something to offer viewers (all are shy of Apple (News - Alert) TV's experience thus far – great hardware, limited content). AT&T has reportedly landed a deal with Starz Entertainment's authenticated online video services for its U-verse Internet TV product as part of the telco's renewed affiliation deal with the premium programmer, reported Multichannel News.

Financial terms and other deal specifics were not disclosed.

With this partnership, AT&T will become the third Starz affiliate to obtain authenticated online rights, along with Comcast (News - Alert) and Dish Network. Separately, Starz is said to be negotiating a new deal with Netflix; that agreement is up in the middle of the first quarter of 2012, says Multichannel News.

AT&T (News - Alert) U-verse TV currently offers 17 premium channels and feeds from Starz Entertainment, including all 13 distinct Starz and Encore channels, West Coast feeds of the flagship Starz and Encore channels, plus IndiePlex and RetroPlex. Advanced services include five channels in HD including Starz HD, Starz Kids & Family HD, Starz Comedy HD, Starz Edge HD, and Encore HD, as well as Starz On Demand, Encore On Demand, Starz HD On Demand, and Encore HD On Demand.

With the expanded affiliate deal, AT&T also acquired the authenticated online rights to deliver the Starz Online and Encore Online services for its premium subscribers. In addition, the telco has the rights to deliver Starz's MoviePlex premium channel and associated MoviePlex On Demand, MoviePlex HD On Demand and MoviePlex Online services in the future.

“We’re very pleased to grow our relationship with Starz and deliver even more quality premium content on U-verse TV, and soon, online,” said Dan York (News - Alert), president of content, AT&T. "This deal helps us with important strategic content initiatives and brings more value to our movie package and U-verse TV customers.”

“AT&T has been very successful in marketing our channels and services. We are excited to extend our deal and expand our relationship by granting them rights to market our services online for its premium subscribers,” said Ed Huguez, executive vice president, sales and affiliate relations for Starz Entertainment.

At the end of 2010, the Starz network had 18.2 million subscribers and Encore had 32.8 million. AT&T closed out last year with 2.99 million U-verse TV customers.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf