Home / Industry / Media /  Lionsgate Play targets 60 premieres in 2022

Lionsgate Play, the video streaming app owned by Hollywood studio Lionsgate, is targeting 60 premieres across the English and Hindi languages by the end of 2022. This will include foreign films and web series like Moonfall, Gaslit, Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?, The Serpent Queen as well as Indian shows like Feels like Home and Jugaadistan. Taking baby steps to produce local Indian content, the company said it will focus on the Hindi language for now though all the local originals will be dubbed and subtitled in regional languages. Gaining traction even in smaller towns, Lionsgate Play is not exploring advertising on its platform for now.

“India is a very important market for us, and for any streaming platform, in terms of subscriber eyeballs. We continue to invest in it at a robust pace," Amit Dhanuka, executive vice-president, Lionsgate, told Mint. “Our global budget is $2 billion and while a major portion of that will go towards Hollywood, there is a big push for Indian and Spanish content too," Dhanuka said declining to share country-specific investment numbers.

With 35-40 million paying subscribers, OTT players are looking at about 120 million paying households in the country, he added. Earlier this month, Lionsgate announced its foray into feature film production with an untitled venture starring Neetu Kapoor, Sunny Kaushal and Shraddha Srinath. While the click and completion rate for a 90-120 minute movie is impressive, Dhanuka said engaging web shows are binge watched by viewers and the company is looking to balance films with series.

In the coming months, it will premiere the second season of its India originals Feels Like Home and Minus One, besides international projects such as The Graham Norton Show, Jerusalem, The Serpent Queen and the third season of suspense drama Departure.

Video streaming platforms in India with paid subscribers are increasingly introducing advertising-led plans to generate revenue and attract more users through cheaper plans. US streaming platform Netflix has confirmed such a model is in the works. Amazon Prime Video too launched its free service miniTV last May within the Android app featuring a library of web series and comedy sketches. But Lionsgate Play will focus on subscriptions. “We are a pure SVoD (subscription video-on-demand) service and all our originals will remain behind paywall. An AVoD strategy may help fuel the funnel but ultimately subscriptions help in monetization," Dhanuka said admitting that while the trend is playing out among several OTT players in India who want users to sample their content for free, Lionsgate Play will focus on its premium originals targeted at an urban audience.

Critics argue against the premium, urban strategy that may be restricting Lionsgate Play’s reach. “Few people in India would sign up for a service that primarily offers international content when there are so many options. Any new player would need significant investment in local programming but with talent and production costs increasingly escalating, that is a never-ending game," a media analyst said declining to be named.

Dhanuka doesn’t agree. “Small towns also form a significant part of our consumers. Plus we’re already dubbing our content in four to five languages," he said, counting Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan as big markets for its content. A believer in distribution partnerships, the company is trying to cater to different wallet sizes by tying up with aggregators like Prime Video Channels and OTTPlay and more tie-ups in the offing in the next 90-100 days.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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