NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- More in keeping with its name, Starz (STRZA) may be ready to sparkle and shine and step out from behind the long shadows cast of rival premium cable-TV networks Time Warner's (TWX) HBO and CBS' (CBS) Showtime.
With a growing stable of popular, original scripted shows spearheaded by CEO Chris Albrecht, Starz -- which was spun off from Liberty Media (LMCA) in January 2013 -- has seen its stock price gaining steadily. On Tuesday, the share price of Englewood, Colo.-based Starz fell 1.4%, however, to $41.10, trimming its advance to 38% for the year thus far.
Following Charter Communications' (CHTR) announcement of plans to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) in a deal valued at $55 billion, Starz may even be even better positioned given that its controlling shareholder, the billionaire John Malone, is also a major stakeholder at Charter.
But Starz's improved position compared to HBO and Showtime is not simply a matter of financial engineering. Under Albrecht, Starz is producing hits.
The network reported $334 million in revenue in the first quarter, a growth of 3% as subscriptions grew by 1.8 million to a record high of 23.7 million. As of late March, Starz ranked No. 2 in premium pay-TV subscribers, leaping ahead of Showtime's 22.8 million subscribers though trailing HBO's 31.4 million, according to media research firm SNL Kagan.
The last time Starz finished ahead of Showtime was in 2008.