Lionsgate hopes to expand its market in India with the launch of its streaming service Lionsgate Play later this year
There has been a significant demand for premium content lately, thanks to the mushrooming popularity of over-the-top (OTT) services. The online space, if anything, is crowded with an overflow of content, with new announcements coming from top OTT players each passing day. Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation is the latest to join the bandwagon with its own premium streaming service, Lionsgate Play.
The global production and distribution company boasts of three key areas; Lionsgate Films, which oversees the production of over 20-25 films a year; Lionsgate Television, which has produced blockbuster originals such as Orange Is The New Black, Spartacus and Mad Men to name a few; and Starz, a network distribution subsidiary that has stakes in over 17 channels in the US. The company launched Lionsgate Play last August in India through Starz, which has now entered into a partnership with Jio Fiber. “The idea is to make sure that we’ve a wide distribution. India is an important market for us, globally. But the market here is complicated in terms of distribution. That’s why we wanted to maximise our visibility,” says Rohit Jain, Managing Director, Lionsgate South Asia.
Rohit Jain , Managing Director, Lionsgate South Asia
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Coincidentally, we speak to Rohit only hours before the announcement of Jio TV+ at the virtual Reliance Annual General Meeting on July 15, where Akash Ambani formally said that the soon-to-be-launched Jio TV+ will exhibit a single sign-in support for 12 OTT apps.
There is not much of a difference between Lionsgate Play and streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ Hotstar, with regard to their business model. The only difference, however, is that the streaming service has entered into telecom partnerships without a direct B2C (business to customer) application. “Our content is typically for young adults in the age group of 20-45. The focus is more on producing urban, edgy-thrillers. So, we’re far more specific about our target audience, unlike a Netflix or Prime,” he says, adding, “Only our OTT services are available to Jio Fiber and other telecom companies, which is still a layer of movies [including films like John Wick, Bombshell and Knives Out].”
But what would happen to the existing legacy deals, the Lionsgate-backed content — available across streaming platforms — once the streaming service goes online? “In the last two or three years, we’ve gotten out of most of the deals. And we’re talking about a library of 20 or 30 movies, which will unwind over a period of time,” he says, adding, “More importantly, all our new movies and shows will only be available on Lionsgate Play.”
The company’s focus, according to Rohit, will be more on localisation, owing to the continuing demand for English content. “We’re a country that likes to watch English content, not necessarily in the English language. We’ve invested a massive amount for dubbing, to make our content available in regional languages,” he adds.
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