Two months after hiring former HBO CEO Chris Albrecht to oversee Starz as part of an original programming push, Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) says it is evaluating strategic alternatives for Starz’s Overture Films division, which was established three years ago to produce and distribute 8-12 full length films annually. In Liberty Media’s earnings release, Albrecht says that Overture “continues to face significant challenges” and that “while no final decisions have been made, we do not expect it to incur annual operating losses in the future of the same magnitude that it has experienced in recent years.”
The news was a contrast to what was otherwise a strong, across-the-board quarterly performance at Liberty Media. The breakdown of results at Liberty’s many units: Liberty Interactive posted a 14 percent jump in revenue to $2.7 billion — driven by strong sales at home shopping channel QVC. The company’s smaller ecommerce business, which includes Backcountry.com and Bodybuilding.com, posted a 17 percent increase in revenue.
Sales at Liberty Starz, which includes the Starz premium networks and broadband service, were up six percent, although operating income dropped slightly because of production costs of original series like Crash. And Liberty Capital, which includes the Starz production and distribution units, saw its revenue jump 18 percent, although operating income was down in part because of expenses associated with Overture Films and Starz animation. Overture’s titles include Capitalism: A Love Story and Sunshine Cleaning.