The days of needing cable to access your favorite movie channels are long gone. Thanks to the streaming revolution, cord-cutters of all stripes can unburden themselves from Netflix’s often-spotty new release section by subscribing to a movie channel with a little more heft. HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and more have entered the fray, but there’s another gem in the pay TV universe you might not have considered: Starz. Here’s everything you need to know before subscribing.
What is Starz?
Unlike its competitors, Starz is just Starz, not Starz Now or something like that. Starz launched 1994, and while it’s often overlooked as a premium channel, its investment in ambitious original programming like American Gods has people more curious than ever.
A Starz subscription gives you access to the channel’s library of movies, documentaries, and original programming. In 2016, Starz’s sister channel, Starz Encore, was folded into the service, providing Starz a remarkably deep catalog of older and classic movies. Couple that with an excellent selection of hits just out of the theater, and Starz gives the competition a run for their money.
How much does Starz cost?
Cost is one of the biggest selling points of the Starz package. While HBO usually sets you back $14.99 a month, a Starz subscription is just $8.99. That’s cheaper than a basic HD Netflix account these days. DirecTV Now subscribers can get it $8 a month, which isn’t that much of a discount, but it adds up over time. With a free seven-day trial, there’s no risk to giving it a try.
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What devices does the Starz app support?
Starz is available on a remarkable number of devices, with some odd exceptions. Standard options like iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, and select smart TVs are all included.However, PlayStation, Chromecast, and Xbox 360 owners are left out in the dark. That’s particularly odd given that Xbox 360 used to be supported by Starz, with the company only cutting off access at the end of February 2017. As frustrating as those absences may be, the good news is Starz app is a joy to use on the platforms it does support.
How does Starz work?
Once you’ve subscribed and downloaded the app on your device of choice, it’s time to get watching. Starz doesn’t offer a live TV version of the channel on its streaming service, but you won’t miss the option. The site is divided into three sections: Featured, Series, and Movies. Featured shows you the best and newest content available on Starz, Series lists the original and legacy programming that comes with your subscription, and Movies is precisely what it sounds like.
Movies are divided clearly by genre and subgenre. For example, in October, a Halloween option pops up giving you spooky seasonal options. And each month, the Popular section lets you know what other subscribers have been enjoying.
Starz shines brightest when it comes to the sheer number of movies available at a time. There are currently 88 kids movies, 92 documentaries, 361 comedies, 167 westerns, 181 action movies, 433 dramas, 112 horror movies, and an entire section of Godzilla movies. While many of premium movie channels focus on new releases, Starz features a solid mix of recent box office titles and less familiar classics. If you’re someone who enjoys discovering movies you’ve read about before but never picked up at the video store, Starz will quickly become an obsession. From lost slashers to your dad’s favorite Westerns, Starz’ movie selection has a little something for everyone.
Series is another area where Starz sets itself apart. Most people don’t realize Starz has access to Encore’s library of classic television. No other major movie channel gives you episodes of The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Magnum P.I., or ALF with your subscription. The service also features a wide range of Spanish language programming, from children’s shows to telenovelas.
Starz might not be everyone’s first choice for a premium streaming movie channel, but no one else offers such wide variety of viewing options.
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What about the Starz app?
We tested the Starz app on three devices: the iPhone SE, Xbox One, and Roku. In each case, the testing devices were connected to a 100MB high-speed internet connection, except where noted. Here’s how each experience panned out.
Starz on iOS
Hands down, Starz has the best mobile app of any major movie channel. Its menus are clear and easy to navigate, whether you’re looking for an old TV show or the latest new releases. Want to catch up on your favorite movies or shows on the road? Starz app lets you download content for offline viewing, sparing you unnecessary data use while keeping you up to date on what’s happening on Power. Of course, some other services let you do that too, but Starz has one more trick up its sleeve: Mobile users can connect their Spotify account to the app, giving them access to playlists of songs from shows, soundtracks to movies, and even comedy albums connected to their content. For music nerds, this extra little feature is a welcome treat.
Starz on Xbox One and Roku
The Starz experience on Xbox One and Roku is virtually identical, with clear menus and great picture quality across both. Roku is a little bit slower to navigate on than Xbox, but that’s due to the limitations of the current operating system more than anything on Starz part. However, unless you’ve tried it on both devices, you won’t notice. Each device we tested Starz provided us with a wonderful experience.
Starz original series
Starz isn’t content to let its great programming library bring in customers, choosing to invest heavily in its own original programming as well. With solid entries in the realms of action, comedy, drama, and even historical sci-fi romance, Starz is started to get attention for its original content. If you’re new to the channel, here’s where you should start.
Based on Neil Gaiman’s long-thought unfilmable 2001 fantasy novel of the same name, American Gods is a lavish adult fairy tale about a war between the Gods and the man caught in the middle of it. Ian McShane and Rickey Whittle a powerful leads as our heroes Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon, while the supporting cast is packed with award-winning actors like Gillian Anderson, Emily Browning, Cloris Leachman, Crispin Glover, and more. Not recommended for the easily offended, American Gods is a slow-burning fantasy for people who wish there were darker options on TV.
Outlander is one of the best and oddest shows on a premium cable channel. Jumping back and forth between 1945 and 18th century Scotland, this time-travel romance couples brutal violence with a heartfelt love story that often softens its heavier moments. Explaining the plot is an exercise in running across a minefield of spoilers, so just trust us this one is worth your time.
Executive produced by rapper and star 50 Cent, Power is a criminally underrated crime epic about a drug kingpin trying desperately to go straight. Torn between his empire, the woman he loves, and the family he has at home, James St. Patrick, known as Ghost on the streets, finds himself knee-deep in blood with each step he makes towards escape. Power is one of the few shows with a predominantly African-American cast on premium cable, and it boasts star-making turns from Omari Hardwick and Naturi Naughton as the St. Patricks. If you’re looking for a new favorite crime show, this is it.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.