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Stronger-than-expected subscriber gains at Starz Entertainment helped drive fourth-quarter results at Liberty Media, and renewed some analysts' faith in the return of the premium pay TV category.
Starz added 800,000 customers in the quarter, its biggest increase since 2007, and ended the period with 18.2 million subscribers. Its Encore service also added 800,000 customers in the period, ending the year with 32.8 million subscribers.
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said the growth wasn't due to any single factor, but a combination of a strong originals lineup and efforts by its own and its distributors' sales teams.
"This growth demonstrates what we've been talking about--there is, for Starz, a real opportunity in the existing premium-television universe," Albrecht said.
In a research note, Collins Stewart media analyst Tom Eagan said the surprisingly strong customer growth "refutes much of the concern that [over-the-top video] …