STARZ Review 2020: An HBO Alternative Worth the Free Trial

0
8
Our Rating Excellent
STARZ PROS
  • Low cost compared to HBO and Showtime
  • Large library (over 1,400 titles)
  • Unique original programming
  • Wide device support
  • Two device streams per account
STARZ CONS
  • Limited number of original shows
  • Strange comcast blockade through provider login
  • No 4K streaming
  • Limited number of payment options

In a world where HBO and Showtime reign supreme, STARZ is still a viable option. STARZ is home to the hit drama, Power, and comes in at a far cheaper price than both of its primary competitors. In this 2020 STARZ review, we take a look at everything you need to know about STARZ, including the ultimate question: Is it worth your money?

What is STARZ?

starz on-demand review 2019
Source: STARZ

STARZ began as a premium movie channel for cable and satellite TV users over two decades ago in 1994. Owned by the movie production company Lionsgate, STARZ now offers several channels, including its flagship, STARZ, and genre-specific channels, including STARZ Cinema (for indie films), STARZ Comedy, STARZ Edge (for young adult aged 18-35), STARZ in Black (targeted to black audiences and focusing on the black film industry), and STARZ Kids & Family.

The STARZ on-demand service offers all of STARZ’s unique content and movie options from across its different channels. The service also delivers a wide range of original content across every major TV and movie entertainment genre. It’s also functional across a number of devices through supported apps.

STARZ 60-Second Review

At roughly half the price of HBO, STARZ offers over 1400 titles. Its content library is larger than what you’ll get with HBO (around 1,000 titles) or Showtime (less than 500 titles). It also carries over 300 titles that are both “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, and carry at least a 7/10 on IMDb (again, far more than both HBO and Showtime).  

The biggest flaws you may find with STARZ is the lack of major originals. Both HBO and Showtime carry far more heavy-hitting and must-see original content. STARZ got into the original content game much later, and its original content library is sparse. Even still, the service offers a nice library for a nice price.

STARZ Pros and Cons

Streaming fans might find STARZ has what they need, while others could find some areas that make this service a limited option.

Pros

  • Low cost. With a monthly subscription price of $8.99, STARZ has a comparative advantage over its higher-priced competitors.
  • Large content library. The service offers over 1,400 titles, many of which are well-rated.
  • Hit original content. STARZ is the only place to watch new episodes and seasons of Power, Outlander, and Rook.
  • Wide device support. This service is available to stream on a large number of supported devices.
  • Two device streams. The service lets you share your subscription.

Cons

  • Limited original content. Showtime, HBO, and most other streaming services have STARZ beat on this end.
  • Comcast blockade. If you get STARZ through Comcast, you can’t use the STARZ app. You must use Comcast’s Xfinity streaming app.
  • No 4K streaming. If you like streaming in 4K UHD, you’ll be out of luck with STARZ.
  • Limited payment options. STARZ only accepts VISA, Discover, and Mastercard.

STARZ Plans & Pricing

There’s one only plan available through STARZ on-demand. When you sign up, you’ll be able to get STARZ for $8.99 per month. 

Unfortunately, STARZ only accepts a limited number of payment methods. You can pay with VISA, Mastercard, or Discover cards, which is a significant limitation for those who like to use other payment methods like PayPal.

STARZ On-Demand Streaming Quality

If you want the best streaming quality possible, STARZ might not be the right app for you. That said, we found streaming quality was generally decent. We’d also love to show you a few screenshots, but unfortunately, STARZ protects its streams against screenshots.

While streaming, you can’t screenshot STARZ’s broadcasts on any device. Nor can you use a screenshot app, or even the “print screen” button on your computer. STARZ will simply blank out the screen when you attempt to do it.

As such, we couldn’t fully verify the streaming quality. However, we can verify that the quality was good, and we didn’t experience any issues common with poor quality, such as buffering, or grainy videos.

All videos we tried to stream also loaded quickly. The only downside is that STARZ makes you sit through an ad or two for other content it has on its service, similar to what Amazon Prime Video currently does.

The service streams well on both desktop browsers and through its dedicated mobile apps.

STARZ Device Support

STARZ has a broad range of device support even for a service that lives in the shadows of more popular brands.

With STARZ on-demand, you can watch through the following devices:

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (3rd Generation or 4th Generation running tvOS 9 or newer), Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick Android TV (Nexus Player, Razer Forge, NVIDIA Shield), and Roku (2nd Generation Roku 2, 3 or 4, and Roku Stick)
  • Smart TVs: Sony TVs (2014 or newer running Android 5+), Samsung Smart TVs with Smart Hub, LG TVs (WebOS 3.0 or higher)
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android devices (4.1 or greater), iOS devices (iOS 8.1 or later), Amazon Kindle Fire tablets (2014 or later running Fire OS 5+), Kindle Fire phones
  • Game consoles: Xbox One and Xbox One S
  • Desktop browsers: Current versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari on Windows 8+, or Apple OSX 10.5.7+

STARZ on Roku

The Starz app is extremely well received among Roku users. The app has a 4.2-star rating on the Roku Channels Store with over 83,000 Roku users rating it. That’s a higher rating than the HBO app, which has a 3.5.

STARZ on Fire TV Stick

Amazon Fire TV users don’t like the STARZ app as much as Roku users do. The STARZ on-demand app has a 3.5-star rating out of over 9,000 Amazon user reviews. That’s slightly better than HBO, but not by much.

STARZ on Apple TV

The Apple TV shares its app store with the overall iOS infrastructure for Apple. You’ll find the STARZ app for Apple TV and other iOS devices is extremely well-received, with a 4.8 out of 5 stars and over 100,000 ratings.

STARZ on iPhones and iPads

The Apple TV and iOS/iPad ratings are equivalent, even though the interfaces might be slightly different across devices. STARZ on-demand for iPhones and iPads has a nearly perfect score from users.

STARZ on Android Phones and Tablets

 The STARZ app is available in the Google Play Store, with a solid 4-star rating. Users love its design and functionality, but there’s a significant complaint regarding how to effectively cancel the service via the app.

STARZ Streaming Library

STARZ has a large and growing streaming library with a good amount of hit content. You have access to all of STARZ’s different channel content on-demand, although you can’t watch anything live in the same way you could if you ordered the channel through a cable TV service.

Nevertheless, your options here are good. Over 1,400 titles are available, from episodic series to movies.

STARZ on-demand review 2019
Source: STARZ

The service currently carries a good number of highly-rated and well-received shows and movies, including Toy Story 3UP, Miami Vice (original), Friday Night Lights, Power, The Rook, and more.

You can search through its content library based on genre, or you can search for a specific movie using the search function. Whenever you watch a show or a movie, STARZ on-demand also recommends similar TV shows or movies you might like, as well as adds your unfinished shows to your “List”.

If you like a show or movie that you want to watch later, you can add it to your playlist.

And while not fully relevant to STAR on-demand users, you can also go to “Schedule” to see a list of shows and movies currently playing across STARZ’s different TV channels. That’s a good way to discover some of the content that’s available, and you can click on any show at any time in the schedule to watch it on-demand.

STARZ on-demand review 2019
Source: STARZ

STARZ DVR

Because this service is completely on-demand, there is no DVR available. The closest you can get to a DVR here is adding items to your playlist.

STARZ Customer Support

STARZ offers two different types of customer support: email and live, over-the-phone support. 

If you’re like me and you prefer live chat options, you’re going to be out of luck. As much as we searched, there’s no option for that.

If you choose the phone option, be prepared to get pigeonholed into a recorded message and number-operated menu options that might not effectively describe your problem. As is typical with phone support, the system is designed to keep avoid you getting to an agent as much as possible, but hang in there if you really need one.

STARZ uses an automated ticketing system with its email support. You’ll receive a response to your ticket immediately, though it may take hours for you to receive an actual human response to your question. 

Interestingly, you may be better off using both systems. STARZ gives a special customer service number for those with an email ticket number, so if you want faster results, create an email ticket, then call the number STARZ gives you in the email.

How to Cancel STARZ

You cannot cancel your STARZ subscription through the app. To do so, you’ll need to open your account from a computer web browser, then go to Subscription and then Cancel Subscription at the bottom. 

The STARZ app is somewhat misleading in that it says you cancel the subscription from the app via the Subscription Management section. However, we discovered that there’s no cancellation option available within the app, despite what the app text says.

STARZ Refund Policy

You can use STARZ with its 7-day free trial. After that, you’ll be required to pay the $8.99 subscription fee. According to its Terms of Service (TOS), STARZ offers no refunds, account credits, or prorated billing for canceled subscriptions. 

Final Comments

STARZ is an interesting service to consider for cord-cutters. While it doesn’t carry the same weight in its brand that HBO and Showtime do, it’s also not one to be ignored so easily. The service offers a larger library than its two chief competitors, and even still has access to some hit Disney content (although for how long is questionable with the launch of Disney+).

On the positive end, STARZ is a relatively inexpensive option to consider. At $8.99 per month, it has more than enough content to binge-watch at your leisure. Its device library is also extremely strong, making it a good contender overall on your favorite streaming device.

All of that said, the downsides to the service are somewhat glaring. Its original content library is severely lacking. Although its original program Power is favored, it’s hardly buzzworthy. And in searching through its content, we found a fair amount of what STARZ does offer is older content, which helps explain why its library is larger than what HBO or Showtime offer.

Our best recommendation for STARZ is to give its 7-day trial a go. That will give you more than enough time to determine if its content library is worth the asking price.

Tech, video games, and a good book. I love all of them, and I'd write about all of them if I had the chance! I've been a teacher in the past, now a writer for tech-related news, guides, and information.
Final Verdict
8
Our Rating Excellent