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Lionsgate is buying Starz for $4.4 billion

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Lionsgate announced this morning that it will buy the Starz network for $4.4 billion in cash and stock, reports Deadline. The deal unites the biggest mini-major studio in the country with the second biggest cable network on television, and could mean big things going forward as the merged companies compete with the likes of Netflix and HBO.

"The combination of Lionsgate and Starz brings significant scale to our portfolio of content and distribution assets and will enable us to compete successfully in today’s rapidly evolving global entertainment marketplace," Lionsgate Chairman Mark Rachesky said in the official release.

The merger brings scale and the resources for more original content

Lionsgate put an acquisition on the table back in February, and today's deal brings closure to months of talks between the two media companies. Starz is the biggest independent cable network, second only to HBO, with 87 original series, 42 networks in the US, and an estimated 23.6 million subscribers. But, even with acclaimed shows like Outlander, the network has struggled to launch more original content. Lionsgate, as the production company behind such hits as Mad Men and Orange Is the New Black, will benefit from the scale Starz provides while helping to create more quality series and bring in more viewers.