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Starz Wants to Challenge HBO, Showtime on Sunday Nights

"Flesh And Bone" New York Limited Series Premiere"Flesh And Bone" New York Limited Series Premiere
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht.Photo by Brent N. Clarke—FilmMagic

Starting in mid-July, subscribers to multiple premium cable channels may have a big decision on their hands each Sunday night.

Starz (STRZA) announced on Wednesday that the premium cable channel will move its weekend slate of original programming from Saturday to Sunday night, beginning July 17 with the third season of drama series Power. The move will pit Starz programs—which also include Outlander and The Girlfriend Experience—against other premium fare at rival networks such as Time Warner’s (TWX) HBO and CBS-owned (CBS) Showtime, among others.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht—who is also the former chairman and CEO of HBO—admitted the risk of taking on ratings giants such as HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC Networks’ (AMCX) The Walking Dead, but the chief executive thinks the risk is worth it for the opportunity of inserting Starz into the Sunday-night realm of premium television programming. “Sundays are a prestige night and we feel our shows are definitely going to be very competitive, not just in viewership but in the attention-getting business on Sundays. So it made sense to move,” Albrecht told THR.


Earlier this year, Starz took another page out of its rivals’ playbooks by launching its own standalone streaming service, which is a few dollars cheaper than those offered by HBO and Showtime, at $8.99 per month.

Albrecht, who joined Starz in 2010, is no stranger to Sunday nights, as HBO also shifted its original programming to that night during Albrecht’s time running that network. For Starz, which has rapidly grown its subscriber base under Albrecht, the move to Sunday comes as the network tries to broaden its portfolio of original series. High-profile shows set to debut within the next year, include American Gods, adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel and set to debut in early-2017, as well as a project from Academy Award-winning director Alejandro G. Inarritu called The One Percent.