The circle is now complete. That doesn’t have a lot to do with the story, but it’s fun to say now and again. Starz has completed its rebranding, first announced a month ago, by officially naming its Encore channels on DIRECTV. All Encore channels are now “Starz Encore” channels, meaning that they’re taking on somewhat unwieldy names like “Starz Encore Action West HD.” Yeah, say that five times fast.
The channels have new “names” in the DIRECTV guide but the channel numbers have not moved.
When you look at what Starz has done in the last two years, it’s really quite a transformation. Like all the premiums they’ve added original content, but more importantly they’ve added a standalone streaming service like HBO has, allowed their content to be bundled with other streaming services like Showtime has, they have a complete suite of mobile and streaming stick apps as well, and now allow you to offload content to your mobile device, which no one else does. This is a big jump coming from a service that up until recently was never considered in the same league as HBO and Showtime.
Starz is serious and I have to believe that this rebranding effort is just the first step toward potentially collapsing some of their channels. There have been a few Encore channels which were never carried in HD, and the whole Encore package seems a little less relevant with apps like Netflix and Hulu that carry a lot of the same types of content. I’ve long forecasted that premium channels will stop the practice of multiple channels and multiple feeds in favor of on-demand and just a few live channels.
When you look at Starz and Starz Encore together, there are 15 different channels, with most having an SD and HD feed so you’re really talking about over 25 different streams. That’s a lot of money invested and a lot of satellite space, and really I think that you’ll see them collapse down to Starz and maybe one StarzEncore channel, primarily for hotes, with the rest just disappearing. That kind of investment in hardware and bandwidth just doesn’t make sense anymore really. That’s why the rebranding is so important, to tie the channels that remain to the Starz brand.
Starz channels start on DIRECTV channel 525.