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Article updated on March 13, 2024 at 9:00 AM PDT

Starz Streaming App: Movies and Standout Originals Make It an Entertaining Alternative

Tired of the same old movies and shows on other streaming services? John Wick, Power and a diverse lineup of dramas can keep you hooked on Starz.

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Kourtnee Jackson
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Kourtnee Jackson Senior Editor
Kourtnee covers TV streaming services and home entertainment news and reviews at CNET. She previously worked as an entertainment reporter at Showbiz Cheat Sheet where she wrote about film, television, music, celebrities, and streaming platforms.
Expertise Kourtnee is a longtime cord-cutter who's subscribed to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Crunchyroll, Sling, Spotify and more. As a real-life user of these services, she tracks the latest developments in streaming, the newest re Credentials
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Starz

See at Starz

Pros

  • New episodes release early
  • Unlimited downloads for offline viewing
  • Quality original shows
  • Ad-free episodes

Cons

  • Original aspect ratio cropped in some movies
  • Choppy playback on phones

Starz first started in 1994 as a premium cable channel, but it's since become recognized for its streaming platform. The company has made significant investments in creating original content, such as the Power universe, Mary & George and The Serpent Queen -- a strategy that's paid off with audiences. Fans, including me, enjoy P-Valley (which holds a 100% rating with Rotten Tomatoes critics), year-round Power spinoffs and the critically acclaimed Outlander. Plus, you can enjoy streaming Starz without any commercial interruptions.

While Starz may not have a large stable of content like Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu, the company is locked in a deal with Universal to air films following their theatrical releases. It's also the place to watch Lionsgate films -- for now. But why should you download the app, let alone subscribe for $10 a month? 

For one thing, it's a low price for a service with Starz's selection and no ads interrupting what you watch. The network also stands apart by promoting diversity and representation in its originals, elevating the voices of women and people of color. This approach contributes to its growing subscriber base and makes Starz an intriguing alternative to its better-known rivals.

Starz vs. Netflix, Max, Hulu, Disney Plus, Prime


StarzNetflixMaxDisney PlusPrime VideoHulu
Monthly price $10Starts at $7Starts at $10Starts at $8$9 (or included with $140/year Prime membership)Starts at $8
Ads NoYesYesYesYesYes
Top titles Power Book II, Outlander, Power Book IV, P-ValleyStranger Things, Queen Charlotte, Squid Game, DahmerSuccession, House of the Dragon, TitansThe Simpsons, The Mandalorian, BlueyMarvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, Rings of PowerHandmaid's Tale, The Bachelor, Bob's Burgers
Mobile downloads Yes YesYes YesYesYes
4K HDR available Yes Yes (on Premium plan)Yes Yes YesYes
Number of streams: 41 (2 for Standard, 4 on Premium)2 (4 for Ultimate)422

Starz streaming app vs. Starz cable channels

The Starz stand-alone app is available for $10 a month. However, there are two Starz premium cable options: Starz and Starz Encore, a suite of niche content. Sometimes they're both included as part of a bundle. Other times, they're sold separately. Starz Encore is mostly new theatrical releases and '70s films.

If you pay for the Starz channel through a cable or satellite TV provider or as an add-on to a streaming service such as Hulu, you can sign in to the Starz app at no additional charge. All of Starz's content is available on the app, but note that Xfinity prohibits its subscribers from using the app.

DirecTV Stream offers Starz as a premium channel (with app access) for $11 a month, while most other providers charge $10 monthly. Unlike Max, for example, the Starz app doesn't have multiple price tiers. Instead, the streaming service offers a single flat rate for its ad-free content, with no option to pay less if you watch ads.

sophie-skelton-brianna-fraser-caitriona-balfe-claire-fraser-sam-heughan-jamie-fraser-outlander-season-5

    Outlander with Sophie Skelton, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan.

Starz

There's a standard seven-day free trial for new users, but you can keep your eyes peeled for special promotions to save a little money.

The Starz catalog includes films and flagship originals

Starz has more than 800 movies and 70-plus television shows in its catalog. Viewers can take in all its originals on the app, including popular series such as P-Valley, the award-winning Outlander, Heels, Gaslit, BMF, Black Sails and the Power franchise. 

Once upon a time, Power was the No. 2 show on cable after Game of Thrones, bringing in an average audience of roughly 8 million, according to Deadline. These days, Power Book III: Raising Kanan and Power Book II: Ghost are drawing in audiences and breaking records on the platform.

Like its streaming competitors, Starz rotates its film selection based on licensing agreements, so some titles are available only for a limited time. Current film choices include John Wick: Chapter 4, 57 Seconds, Joy Ride, Casino, Retribution and Maleficent.

Starz's Power content displayed on a TV mounted on a brick wall
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Universal agreement also opens the gates to titles from Blumhouse and Focus Features, plus select movies in the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group library, like the Despicable Me and Minions films. The deal affects theatrical releases in 2022 and beyond, enabling Starz to broadcast the studio's big titles exclusively approximately 18 months after their release dates before they go back to the NBC/Universal-owned Peacock. 

Upcoming in-house projects include an Outlander prequel series, a Spartacus sequel, Mary & George, and The Hunting Wives. Starz also green-lighted a docuseries from P-Valley's Katori Hall and Nicco Annan.

Starz President of Domestic Networks Alison Hoffman told CNET that much of the brand's success can be attributed to its lineup of diverse content. With women and people of color helming many of the network's series, the company prides itself on listening to its audience, cast members and showrunners by telling stories that may not be represented elsewhere. Additionally, Hoffman shared that Starz is focused on beefing up its original programming slate in the coming year.

Read more: The Best Original TV Shows to Stream on Starz

Starz app offers early access to new episodes

One of the most appealing qualities about streaming via the Starz app is its early release schedule. New episodes of original shows like Power Book II: Ghost, P-Valley and Outlander drop at midnight ET on the day of their air dates, hours before their live premieres on cable. West Coast residents can watch at 9 p.m. PT on a Thursday night ahead of a Friday primetime broadcast of a new episode. You can watch new episodes as often as you'd like before the live release and then afterward on demand. 

How does the app perform?

Starz's interface is user-friendly with neatly organized categories based on genre, originals, previous viewing habits, popularity, special themes or release date. You can also browse movies and series based on alphabetical order, year or your favorite cast members. Starz allows you to click on actors' names for a list of their roles in other projects streaming on the service. Occasionally, the app will automatically recommend "cast picks" connected to who and what you watched.

When filtering a search, there's also an option to choose content based on run time, which ranges from under 20 minutes to over 60 minutes. That includes kid-friendly fare. Like Netflix, Hulu and Max, the Starz app gives you the ability to create personal watchlists and up to five user profiles. It also allows four simultaneous streams on any screen. Another plus? You can download as much as you want to kill time when all you have is your phone. Lunch breaks and travel don't have to be boring.

With that in mind, your screen size won't matter when watching movies. One of the downsides of the app is that Starz resizes the aspect ratio for movies. That means if a film was originally shot with letterboxes and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Starz sometimes crops it to fill up your entire screen. That makes some movies look distorted. 

Starz Streaming Service App 2022

Starz on an iPad.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I tried the app on an Android phone and while the sound and picture quality is great, I noticed that playback is sometimes choppy where the video plays at a sped-up pace and throws off its sync. Occasionally, there's a lag with the rewind and fast-forward feature. Additionally, when using an iPad, if you pause a show for too long, the episode starts over when you return. You have to manually fast forward or rewind. Other Android and iOS users have reported similar issues.

The autoplay feature kicks in at the end of every movie or TV show, but you can disable it in the app's settings. Within that menu, users can also choose between medium or high quality for downloads or adjust the parental controls on each profile. For playback, Starz allows you to select English or Spanish for audio language or subtitles. It also has picture-in-picture capability, which enables you to watch two videos at the same time, even if one is on another app.

Starz offers value for $10

Compared to its competitors Max, Hulu, Peacock and Netflix, the Starz app is on the lower end when it comes to pricing for ad-free streaming. Disney Plus is $14, Hulu is $18, Peacock is $12 without ads, Max clocks in at $16 a month while Paramount costs $12 with similar offerings. While Starz's catalog may not be as expansive as other streaming services, it's growing and its exclusive prestige originals make it a viable choice.