Millions of people in Florida and around the country subscribe to premium cable and satellite channels like Starz. The Colorado-based service has attracted more than 31 million subscribers by offering television shows and major motion pictures that cannot be seen anywhere else, and one of its most significant moves was securing the exclusive rights to iconic MGM films like the James Bond series, “Mad Max”, “Rain Man”, and “Thelma and Louise”.
Starz is now accusing MGM of violating the terms of the exclusivity deal. In a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, Starz alleges that the entertainment and hospitality giant is allowing other streaming services and networks to show its films. An MGM representative responded to the lawsuit by accusing Starz of using the courts to conceal its business missteps. However, MGM has admitted to granting licenses for about a third of the titles covered by the agreement to other networks.
MGM has yet to confirm how many competing channels have purchased licenses to show its films. Starz says that it found out in August 2019 that “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” was available on a competing network. The company claims to have since discovered about 300 films and television shows that breach the agreement. Some of these films and shows could be viewed on Amazon while others appeared on MGM’s own channel Epix. Starz is seeking compensatory damages for lost profits, reputational damage and diminished goodwill. MGM has vowed to mount a vigorous defense to the allegations in court.
Cases like this one can take years to make their way through the courts, which is why attorneys with commercial litigation experience may encourage the parties involved in such disputes to seek an amicable settlement whenever possible. When adversarial negotiations fail to produce an agreement, attorneys could suggest exploring more cooperative alternatives like mediation.