Will "Black Sails" Help Starz Navigate TV's Choppy Waters?

First, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) decided it wanted to HBO. Now, Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA  ) wants a piece of the action with an original program called Black Sails, due to air next January.

Starz pulled out the stops at San Diego Comic-Con with a large booth populated by a replica pirate ship meant to give visitors a feel for the show. Starz treated fans to a screening Thursday night during the con with music performed by show composer Bear McCreary, whose other credits include the reimagined Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead.

The show, set 20 years before Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book Treasure Island, focuses on pirates who face enemies all about as they fight to preserve a criminal haven known as New Providence Island. Executives no doubt hope the series and its dark undercurrent proves appealing to the tens of millions who have taken to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

There's merit to the plan. Offbeat and edgy original programming has proved to be an attractive alternative to network TV fare in recent years. Black Sails fits the mold.

Starz also needs the help. Revenue growth has gone missing as debt has ballooned since 2011. Meanwhile, Netflix's sweeping deal with Walt Disney means the network won't have access to Marvel, Star Wars, and other popular properties come 2016. Executives have until then to develop a cost-effective portfolio of originals and licensed programs capable of igniting growth.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that original programming will pay off. Look at Netflix. For as good a draw as House of Cards was, the new Arrested Development failed to draw even a million new members. Netflix shares sold off as a result, and that's in spite of a significant earnings beat.

So while I'd love to believe Black Sails will take TV's treasure island, as an investor, I'd rather add Starz to my watchlist. Here's how you can do the same.

Who will win the $2.2 trillion media war that's pitting cable companies against technology giants? The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation reveals the secret Steve Jobs took to his grave and explains why you need to be looking at these three power players that film your favorite shows. Click here to watch today!


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 2562978, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 7/31/2014 10:21:46 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

TREND TRACKER: Get Rich When the Web Goes Dark

It's time to say "goodbye" to your Internet! One bleeding-edge technology is about to put the World Wide Web to bed. And if you act right away, it could make you wildly rich. Experts are calling it the single largest business opportunity in the history of capitalism… The Economist is calling it "transformative"... but you'll probably just call it "how I made my millions." Big money is already on the move. Don't be too late to the party – find out the 1 stock to own when the Web goes dark.


Advertisement