TCA: Starz plans for continued growth with “Outlander,” “Black Sails”

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht took the stage at the Television Critics Association 2014 Winter Press Tour sharing the networks ongoing plans for more original content and continued subscriber growth. The network boasts 22 million subs for its flagship Starz network, and 35 million for sister net Encore.

“We’ve had eight consecutive quarters of subscriber growth,” Albrecht said. “Combined, the Starz/Encore package is the largest premium offering combo in the U.S.”

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Tobias Menzies as Black Jack Randall in Starz' new series OutlanderBolstering the network for future growth are several new series. For 2014, one of the most anticipated series is Outlander, a romantic drama/sci-fi/adventure series based on the immensely popular book series from Diana Gabaldon. Fans of the books have been waiting years for their characters to come to life in film and have already created a frenzy over the casting of lead Sam Heughan as the chivalrous and romantic Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser, and Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, who is a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 where a passionate love affair is ignited with Jamie. [Pictured is Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser being tortured by  Black Jack Randall, played by Tobias Menzies.]

Another original getting buzz is Black Sails, a gritty pirate tale from Jonathan Steinberg, which bows on the network Jan. 25. “Some of the characters here are actual people: Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny. Those are all very real people,” explains Carmi Zlotnik, Starz managing director. Flint and Long John Silver are mentioned and, clearly, the characters from Treasure Island but the historical context and what we’ve tried to do, in terms of recreating this world, was to find a place that felt historically realistic and that was capturing a moment in time when people who had been authorized by the British Crown to act as privateers and loot on the open ocean on behalf of the British Crown all of a sudden became criminals.”

In addition, Starz announced the second season of DaVinci’s Demons to premiere on March 22, and the new series Power will premiere in late spring.

“We have a lot of exciting times up ahead for Starz. We’ve had a very successful business story, and we’re looking forward to have an equally successful programming story,” Albrecht said.  “Our goal is to air between 65 and 75 hours of original programming in 2015, putting the network on a parity with our brethren premium brands in terms of scripted originals.”