Home >Industry >Media >Lionsgate Play launches first Indian original as OTT players eye larger market

NEW DELHI: Hollywood studio Lionsgate, which launched its independent video streaming app Lionsgate Play in India last December, has announced its first local original, a remake of LGTV’s (Lionsgate Television’s) comedy drama Casual. The hit series is first among the original slate of dramas, comedies, crime and action series being developed for the Indian and South Asian market.

International OTT (over-the-top) video streaming platforms have long realised the importance of local language content to woo Indian audiences. After offering regional language content acquired from studios and producers for years, new original titles have been commissioned exclusively by several platforms over the past few months.

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Media and entertainment industry experts say the covid-19 pandemic has marked a milestone of sorts for regional language streaming as both homegrown and foreign platforms get serious about their spends on vernacular content. Netflix brought its first Tamil original Paava Kadhaigal last year while Amazon Prime Video had Putham Pudhu Kaalai, a Tamil anthology of five short films with Rajiv Menon, Suhasini Mani Ratnam, and Karthik Subbaraj.

“The launch of Lionsgate Play’s first slate of original series in India is the next logical step in the continued rapid growth of the platform," said Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs in a statement. “Our ability to kick off the Lionsgate Play original slate with the remake of a great intellectual property like Casual, with a renowned director and world-class stars, shows what we can achieve through the continued collaboration of our STARZ, Lionsgate Television and Lionsgate India businesses," he said. The series will be directed by Kunal Kohli, Bollywood film director known for films such as Hum Tum and Fanaa.

The investment in original regional content is a natural progression for OTT services, given the huge opportunity to capture audiences in India with increasing access to internet and mobile handsets, media experts say.

Earlier this week, NBCUniversal Formats, a division of Universal Studio Group, signed a co-production deal with Banijay Asia to adapt a number of its formats in India. Indian fans of international shows such as Suits, House, Monk, Saturday Night Live, The Titan Games and Top Chef will now be treated to local versions of these popular titles.

The past few months of covid-19 have seen a slew of new services being launched.

Telugu filmmaker Allu Aravind started aha Video in Telugu while Marathi film producer Akshay Bardapurkar is floating a Marathi language video streaming service called Planet Marathi. A new service STAGE will offer original content in local dialects such as Haryanavi, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri, Konkani, among others, through formats such as comedy, folk, poetry, storytelling and motivational content.

Bengali streaming service Hoichoi had notched up 13 million subscribers by September.

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