CBS Eyes Acquiring Cable Network Starz

While the streaming landscape is changing incredibly quickly, CBS is apparently out to show that it can and will compete with the biggest players in the game.

Last Friday, Fortune reported that CBS is in talks to buy the cable network Starz. The story was broken earlier that day by tech news website The Information.

According to Fortune, CBS made an informal bid to buy the network from owner Lions Gate Entertainment, the studio behind the John Wick and Hunger Games movies. That offer - in the amount of around $5 billion - was apparently rebuffed. However, Lions Gate seems to still be interested: they reportedly made a counteroffer of $5.5 billion. In response to news of the talks, shares of Lions Gate closed up 15% on Friday.

This isn’t the first time that CBS has tried to acquire Starz. Quoting the Fortune piece: “CBS was interested in buying Starz before it got acquired by Lions Gate for $4.4 billion in 2016. The network, which carries shows such as American Gods, attracts an audience that CBS doesn’t reach with its current lineup.”

There’s also a potential for CBS to leverage Starz to benefit its streaming service, CBS All Access. According to Fortune: “Lions Gate has been speaking to financial and strategic investors about financing the rollout of its Starz network in overseas markets, people familiar with the situation said last week. A deal could involve raising several hundred million dollars for a multiyear rollout of the subscription video service into more countries, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public.”

Additionally, according to the piece, “Starz has also launched in Canada on Bell Media and is the leading subscription video-on-demand service in the Middle East and North Africa. The network could be in over 50 international territories by next year.”

Back in 2017, then-CBS CEO Les Moonves promised that CBS All Access would expand globally, but so far is only available in the US, Canada and Australia.

Alison Pitt