STARZ is bringing ENCORE Networks under its umbrella on April 5th with a new look, logo and brand positioning summed up with the tagline, “STARZ: Obsessable.”
As is rebrands Encore to Starz Encore, the premium cable programmer is leveraging programming that ignites fandom, the single master brand approach makes it easier for viewers to find and bookmark the Starz brand and creates new marketing and sell-in opportunities.
The rebranded STARZ ENCORE suite of channels totals 14 linear channels (11 in HD) offering approximately 5,000 movie titles and TV episodes every year, including nearly 2,200 movies. As of December 2015, STARZ ENCORE network had 32.2 million subscribers..
Jeffrey Hirsch, Starz President of Global Marketing and Product Planning stated in a press release, “As the insurgent in the original programming landscape, STARZ has made a point of serving the fan first, while staying true to the creators and the powerful stories they tell.”
“STARZ is delivering compelling fan-centric experiences for all types of audiences, whether it’s classic movies and westerns, hit shows like ‘Power’ or series and movies that fans have anxiously awaited for decades. Harnessing the power and resonance of the STARZ flagship brand and bringing the expansive movie and television series offerings under one brand is good for the consumer and the distributor alike.”
As it explored rebranding its sister Encore channel, Starz partnered with branding and marketing agency Troika to probe the fandom phenomenon with original research, and found that 85% of adults consider themselves to be fans of something and 70% identify as fans of a TV series.
The Nielsen Social Guide reports that in 2015 STARZ programming generated more Twitter conversation than that of Showtime (+52%) and Cinemax (+367%), and STARZ had the largest percentage increase in brand-level social media audience size amongst a competitive set (including HBO, Showtime, AMC and FX) on both Facebook (+123%) and Twitter (+65%). The new network positioning plays well into STARZ’s digital and social marketing strategy.
The new tagline “STARZ: Obsessable” highlights the importance of its fans, and such fan-centric programming as original series Outlander, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, American Gods and box office hits such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
The primary Encore-branded channel will be rechristened STARZ ENCORE and will carry previous seasons of Starz’s original series and classic films. Encore’s multiplex channels, Encore Action, Encore Family and Encore Western, will also be rebranded with the Starz name.
“In a world of unlimited choices—where SVOD services are providing the ability to watch what you want, when you want, where you want and the way you want—brands will become increasingly important as aggregators,” STARZ CEO Chris Albrecht told us last year. “And people will look to brands to find the kind of things they want instead of just surfing an unlimited amount of choices. So I think in this increasingly competitive landscape, brands are more important than ever.”
Albrecht knows those wars all too well, having honed his chops as Chairman at HBO in 2002 when VCRs and shifting pay TV windows challenged the model but ultimately spurred fresh, award-winning programming including Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Band of Brothers, The Wire and Entourage.
Now, as Albrecht and team tighten the Starz branding, as Digital Trends notes, “Just how “obsessable” Starz’s series are will likely determine whether making them available to Encore subscribers brings those subscribers over, but the decision, however it turns out, serves as evidence that original content has become a key weapon in the subscription and streaming wars.”