Starz launched in 1994 as a premium cable service that aired recently released, unedited theatrical movies, and in this sense, it was positioned as direct competitor to pay-TV movie channels HBO and Showtime. The Starz network, which consists of several separate channels in a "multiplex" arrangement, still airs theatrical movies, but like HBO and Showtime, it has also begun to produce a significant amount of original programming.
At its launch, Starz boasted exclusive broadcast rights to films from Universal Studios, a deal that gave the startup channel the ability to compete effectively with the much more established HBO and Showtime. Starz currently has the benefit of deals with Disney - which includes films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel Studios - and Sony Pictures, as well as deals with several other studios. The deal with Disney, however, is set to expire in 2015, when broadcast rights to many Disney films will transfer to Netflix.
Starz original programming includes entertainment news and informational programs, along with a few scripted dramatic series. As with original series on HBO and Showtime, Starz original series are aimed primarily at adult audiences and are more willing to include mature content than are series on basic cable and broadcast TV.