StarzPlay is a website and mobile app that features original programming and feature film content from Starz available for streaming in standard or high definition. It is available to Starz subscribers of Verizon FIOS, AT&T U-verse,Cox Communications, Xfinity by Comcast[ and DirecTV.The current incarnation of the StarzPlay online service (which is structured as a TV Everywhere-style service) was launched on October 8, 2012, with the release of the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch app.
The StarzPlay name was borrowed from a prior service offered in conjunction with Netflix. It was created in 2008 after the subscription streaming service struck an agreement with Starz Entertainment to allow Netflix to sub-license rights to films from distributors that maintain output deals with the linear Starz channel for online viewing – in lieu of acquiring the digital distribution rights on its own, due to the expense of acquiring newer film titles – as Netflix is considered to be merely a "content aggregator". Because Netflix chose to sub-license digital rights through Starz instead of negotiating with the studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures threatened not to renew its output deal with Starz unless it either discontinued its deal with Netflix or paid Disney a licensing fee for digital streaming rights to its films (Netflix will assume rights to most film releases by Walt Disney Studios from Starz in 2016).
StarzPlay (as a Netflix service) was first made available to Starz subscribers of the Verizon FiOS television service.Starz content (including most of its original programming and series content that the channel acquired through domestic and international distributors) was made available on Netflix's "Watch Instantly" platform. It was the third subscription video-on-demand online streaming service operated by Starz: Starz Ticket operated from 2004 to 2006, under a joint venture between Starz Entertainment and RealNetworks.Starz offered its own separate online movie service, Vongo, to its subscribers from 2006 until it discontinued the service on September 30, 2008.
On September 1, 2011, Starz announced that it would not renew its streaming agreement with Netflix, which ended on February 28, 2012; movie titles that are available on DVD from Sony Pictures, Disney and other studios that maintain pay television distribution deals with Starz were not affected and can be acquired from Netflix by this method.With the expiration of the Netflix deal, film content from studios with which Starz maintains broadcast rights were no longer available for online streaming, particularly as Netflix and certain similar services such as Vudu did not have separate streaming rights to films from these individual studios. Prior to the beta launch of its Starz Online service (which became StarzPlay upon its official launch), Starz announced on November 18, 2011 that it was developing a streaming application for mobile devices, allowing the network's subscribers – and in early reports, speculation that possibly non-subscription television subscribers would be allowed as well – to view Starz's series and film content.The app was released on October 9, 2012 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and on May 7, 2013 for Android devices. An app for the Xbox 360 was released on December 3, 2013,followed by an app for the Xbox One on August 5, 2014 (both are available for no extra charge to Xbox Live Gold members).
StarzPlay is the first Starz-branded service to be localized outside the United States; more precisely within 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, breaching those territories before its biggest competitor in media streaming being Netflix. The service, under the guise Starz Play Arabia, launched on April 2, 2015 for those territories, coinciding in the same week as 2015's MEFCC event where the service was heavily promoted