This morning, Lionsgate announced that it will buy the Starz network for $4.4 billion in both cash and stock. The deal merges the biggest mini-major studio in the U.S. with cable’s second-largest network, both of which are connected to cable mogul John Malone (Starz’s largest voting shareholder who is also a board member at Lionsgate). The deal will provide Lionsgate access to a library of over 16,000 titles and a platform that reaches 24 million U.S. subscribers. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, whose contract was recently renewed through 2020, will continue to run the operation. The four-and-a-half year deal becomes effective on Friday.