Outlander Exits Amazon for Starzplay in U.K. (EXCLUSIVE)
As it expands its global footprint, Lionsgate-backed streaming service Starzplay has snapped up exclusive rights to hit series “Outlander” in the U.K., Variety can reveal.
The deal marks the first time the long-running Starz show, which will debut season 6 in early 2022, will be streamed on its home platform outside the U.S.
“Outlander,” which shot in Scotland earlier this year, is one of the highest profile titles on Amazon Prime Video in the U.K., which picked up rights to the show from Sony Pictures Television in 2015. This latest deal, however, saw Starz outbid competitors for the series from Sony.
Fans can still, theoretically, continue watching “Outlander” on Amazon, but they’d need to buy separately into Starzplay via Amazon Channels, rather than getting it directly as an Amazon Prime Video original.
The Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe-fronted historical drama — which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Left Bank Pictures and Story Mining & Supply Company, in association with Sony Pictures Television — will air day and date with the U.S. All previous seasons are also being made available on Starzplay.
The Starzplay U.K. slate includes “The Great,” “Godfather of Harlem,” and the recently launched “Dr. Death” as well as travel docuseries “Men In Kilts,” all upcoming installments of the “Power” universe, “P-Valley” and “The Spanish Princess.”
“Because we have such a great experience with ‘Outlander’ domestically, the way we look at this is bringing ‘Outlander’ home to Starz,” says Superna Kalle, Starz’s newly promoted president of international networks.
“When I first joined, I was sad to see we didn’t have ‘Outlander’ in most countries, so the way we’ve been able to license it in the U.K., the home of ‘Outlander’ in terms of where it’s set, is super exciting.”
The big move for the show, from Amazon to Starzplay, which has been active in the U.K. since 2018, comes as the Lionsgate-owned SVOD turns three this year, capping off an aggressive expansion to almost 60 markets around the world. Distribution partnerships have been key to growth, says Kalle. Starzplay in the U.K., for example, first launched as part of Amazon Prime Video’s Channels line-up, but it’s now also available on Apple TV Plus, Virgin TV, Roku and Rakuten. The same goes for a number of other markets.
When it first started, distribution was critical, says Kalle, and the streamer took whichever Starz shows weren’t licensed previously as well as buying programs off the shelf.
“But then we found out what was working where,” says the executive. In the U.K., for example, “Power” had been on Netflix, but when Starzplay launched spin-off “Ghost” last September, it “blew numbers out of the water.”
“It was [two times] anything else we had on the service in terms of the number of acquisitions that it drew,” says Kalle. “What that proved was we could take existing IP from another platform and launch it successfully on Starzplay.”
But is there enough “Outlander” remaining to further build out the Starzplay U.K. base? Season 7 has been greenlit, says Kalle, and Heughan also appears in the travel docuseries “Men in Kilts,” which follows the lead and co-star Graham McTavish as they explore their heritage on an epic adventure through Scotland.
As for whether Starzplay will look to buy back its originals for the service elsewhere around the world, Kalle says it may not emulate the U.K. move with “Outlander” elsewhere, “but with other IP that exists, absolutely.”
“Now, three years in, we have access to a lot of data and it informs pretty much every decision we make about what to acquire and where,” says Kalle. “We won’t necessarily stop doing wide swathes of acquisitions across all of our markets, but we’re becoming more bespoke country by country.”
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