As we turn the corner in the streaming wars, the ever-expanding roster of services faces the inevitable retrenching as not every online "+" bearing service is successful. The first step is to stop hosting their own content.
First, Starz greenlit Dangerous Liaisons for a second season, sight unseen before the first one even aired. Then they retracted that second-season renewal when the show didn't do well critically. Now, Starz has announced that the single season won't be on its streaming service and will be removing the recently canceled Becoming Elizabeth, along with a few American titles. It's not the first streaming service to announce such moves in recent months either, as HBO Max removed The Nevers and other titles, and AMC+ is reversing on several Season 2 renewals.
These changes in the streaming landscape are part of a broader move by production studios to start cutting back on expenses. The trend of every network launching its streaming service (usually with a "plus" on the end) and attracting subscribers by making those services the exclusive home of their content was never a sustainable model. Some studios were more prepared than others: Netflix, with their 60+ releases a month done on venture capital money, and Disney, with their monopoly size, to tap into multiple brands. But Starz was never of a size that could compete on that field.
That's not to say these shows will be gone forever. Starz isn't taking titles like Becoming Elizabeth off its service to store them in Disney-like vaults. Instead, it's turning these shows into what they always were before the streaming revolution: assets others will pay for the rights to air.
The issue stems from production studios acting as if hosting their own content on their own service is somehow a thing they do for free. That may be the general public's impression, but it's not true. Many stars, producers, and crew members get paid for hit shows via the residual system, aka, every time the show airs on TV or is included as part of a monthly streaming package*, they get a small fixed fee. Those small fees ad up, and if a show isn't that popular, it can cost a studio more to have it on the service than in subscriber revenue it brings in.
*(At one point, Fox attempted to lowball selling shows to itself to see if stars would do anything when the tiny sums cut their residuals to nothing. They did not take it lying down, and the resulting lawsuit — known as The Bones Case — wound up costing Fox millions of dollars.)
Starz already has working relationships with two successful streaming services. Netflix is how many people watch Outlander, and Amazon hosts the Starz streaming service as an add-on to its more extensive Prime service. With Amazon looking to bulk up MGM+ and Netflix always hungry for more shows it can turn into hits, it won't be long before fans can watch these shows again; it just won't be via Starz streaming.