(Reuters) - Lions Gate Entertainment Corp has named Jeffrey Hirsch as president and chief executive of the Starz cable network as it mounts an aggressive global expansion.
From 2016, Hirsch served as chief operating officer of the network owned by Lions Gate and has been running it since the departure of Chris Albrecht, a former HBO executive.
At Starz, Hirsch has been credited with launching the Starz mobile application in the United States and helping to add more than a million new U.S. customers last year, as the total rose from 23.5 million to 24.7 million subscribers.
Hirsch has also overseen an aggressive expansion of Starz’s digital businesses, which now sells its products on Apple Inc , Hulu, Roku, YouTube TV and other outlets. Starz says it has more than 4.4 million U.S. digital subscribers.
That has attracted potential suitors such as CBS Corp, which had expressed interest in an acquisition of Starz, according to sources familiar with the matter.
But talks have not restarted after Viacom Inc and CBS announced a recombination despite its controlling shareholder Shari Redstone’s ambitions to have ViacomCBS, the name of the combined company, get bigger faster.
Under his watch Starz has expanded into close to 50 countries in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and it is expected to serve between 15 million to 20 million international customers by 2025, the company said.
“He has a clear strategic vision, great understanding of where our business is headed and strong relationships that will all contribute to Starz’s continued strong growth and evolution,” said Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer.
Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Tom Brown