Home >Industry >Media >Lionsgate Play to premiere 60 titles over next 12 months

NEW DELHI: Hollywood studio Lionsgate, which launched its independent video streaming app Lionsgate Play in India last December, is eyeing a bigger chunk of the country’s over-the-top (OTT) streaming market, with a plan to premiere 50-60 fresh titles over the next 12 months. This will be a mix of films and web shows.

While primarily an English language streaming platform, the service will look at bringing Indian originals and foreign language content to audiences in India where it is priced at Rs99 a month and Rs699 a year.

“Our target audience is the global citizen who prefers edge-of-the-seat, slightly provocative content," said Amit Dhanuka, executive vice-president, Lionsgate. Earlier during the pandemic, recognising the demand for fresh content, Lionsgate had hosted a ‘Blockbuster Fridays’ series, premiering one new title, including the likes of John Wick 3 – Parabellum, John Wick 2 and My Teacher’s Wife, every week.

Apart from Hollywood movies produced by Lionsgate and its subsidiary Starz, the streaming platform will also premiere content curated from global conglomerates such as BBC, NBC, ITV and Endeavour. Its slate of Indian originals includes those made in collaboration with filmmakers such as Kunal Kohli, Akarsh Khurana and production houses like EndemolShine India and Jar Pictures.

“We’re in the process of announcing more local Indian originals with big stars but it takes time to put these projects together, a fact that is true for everyone. No foreign service is bringing out more than 10-12 Indian originals every year," Dhanuka said adding that while the covid-19 pandemic has derailed plans, it also gave the service an opportunity to premiere films directly on the service, skipping theatres, such as horror flick Spiral: From the Book of Saw, mystery thriller The Lodge and action thriller Till Death, among others.

Dhanuka said the platform is keen to localise all international content and will dub it into Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada and Bhojpuri.

To be sure, the burgeoning OTT market in India over the past few months of the covid-19 pandemic has provided a glimpse of the room for growth. According to a recent PwC report, by 2025 India’s VoD (video-on-demand) market will be $2.9 billion (Rs21,589 crore), up from $1.3 billion (Rs9,678 crore) in 2020 (growing at 17.5% CAGR), making it the third-largest VoD market in Asia Pacific after China and Japan.

Competition between nearly 60 platforms, especially, foreign entities, is at an all-time high and regional language content is driving growth. SVoD (subscription video-on-demand) will grow at 18.3% CAGR from 2020 to 2025, from $1.2 billion (Rs8,934 crore) to $2.7 billion (Rs20,102 crore).

Moreover, urban, English-language viewers have long made the transition to OTT from television, given the diverse and targeted content on offer. It is not uncommon, for instance, to see shows like The Big Bang Theory, FRIENDS, Suits and Brooklyn Nine-Nine trending on Netflix. Moreover, streaming platforms are increasingly banking on niche, foreign language cinema including those in Korean, Danish, French, Dutch, Spanish, among others to draw audiences in India. The covid-19 pandemic, which has forced people to stay at home, has exposed viewers to more global content as they become comfortable with subtitles as well as stories that resonate with them.

Amazon Prime Video recently premiered Oscar winner Minari (Korean) while BookMyShow Stream has titles like Another Round (Danish), I Remember You (Icelandic) and Heroic Losers (Spanish).

“This is just the beginning. India is not an easy market to crack with consumption patterns and content relevant to audiences different across the high, middle and low class. But with time, more niche services will emerge that resonate with particular sets of audiences," Vishal Shah, managing partner at GroupM-owned media agency MediaCom had said in an earlier interview.

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