Roku Angling to Buy Piece of Starz With Apollo Group

Streaming platform Roku and private-equity firm Apollo Group have teamed on a bid to acquire a minority stake in Starz, the Lionsgate-owned cable network and streaming service.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Lionsgate bought Starz for $4.4 billion cash and stock deal in 2016; the company’s market cap is now around $3 billion. The company announced in November that its board had approved the exploration of spinning off or selling Starz.

Roku and Apollo are among multiple bidders kicking the tires on Starz, according to sources. It’s unknown what percentage of Starz is under discussion; the Journal reported that Roku and Apollo could acquire “up to a 20% stake in Starz,” but that the companies do not agree on the value of the stake with Lionsgate.

Reps for Lionsgate, Roku and Apollo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For Roku, owning a piece of Starz would help boost its content business, which revolves around selling ads and subscriptions via the Roku Channel.

Last week, Roku announced output deal with Lionsgate for upcoming theatrical releases through 2024, covering films including the “John Wick” franchise, “Expendables 4,” Nicolas Cage starrer “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and the upcoming adaptation of beloved Judy Blume novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Under the pact, the Lionsgate titles will come to the free, ad-supported Roku Channel after an initial pay 1 window on Starz.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the Roku Channel reached U.S. households with an estimated 80 million people. The Roku Channel was a top 5 channel on the Roku platform in the U.S. by active account reach and streaming hour engagement in Q1 2022.

According to Lionsgate, that Starz’s net global streaming subscribers hit 19.7 million as of the end of 2021, up 1.7 million sequentially. Starz original series include “Power” and spinoffs, as well as “Outlander,” “Hightown” and “P-Valley.”

Pictured above: Omari Hardwick in “Power” on Starz

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