For Starz, "Black Sails" Is Suddenly Looking Adrift

Black Sails may have a tough time keeping a crew of regular viewers, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the following video.

The show, a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA  ) original, drew in a combined 3.5 million viewers in its debut weekend on a base of 850,000 who tuned in live. Impressive, right? No doubt. And yet the wind may be turning against Black Sails. Episode 3 saw live viewership drop to just 670,000, a 20% decline.

Should investors be concerned? Tim says it's too soon to panic, especially with Outlander and its built-in audience of rabid fans waiting in the wings. Still, it's clear Black Sails isn't getting the reaction Starz hoped for when it pre-emptively ordered a second season on the heels of a positive screening at last summer's San Diego Comic-Con.

Mediocre reviews probably aren't helping. Only 58% of critics and 75% of audiences like the show as of this writing, according to RottenTomatoes.com. Plenty of other action-packed epics are earning more raves, including The Blacklist (82% fresh), Helix (84% fresh), and The Walking Dead (90% fresh). They've set a high bar that, so far, Black Sails hasn't found a way to clear. Don't let that keep you out of the stock entirely if you're interested in taking a position, Tim says. Just be sure to make it a small one.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Are you watching Black Sails? If so, how do you rate it compared to the alternatives? Please watch the video to get Tim's full take and then leave a comment to let us know what you think, and whether you would buy, sell, or short Starz stock at current prices.

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  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 12:38 PM, Tvman53 wrote:

    I would never buy a stock or drop a stock based on one show's success or failure. Let's face it--- original programming in the tv landscape is a bit of a crap shoot. If you're batting .300, you're having a stellar year.

    Black Sails, a show I happen to like, started off very strong and the early commitment to a 2nd season will help viewers know they won't be left hanging. This is a good sign that they will stick to something they believe in.

    However, when considering Starz as a stock, you have to ask yourself if you like their commitment to original programming--- and the fact that they got spun off makes them an attractive media property, for me anyhow.

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