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Last Updated : Sep 09, 2019 06:07 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Global studio Lionsgate comes to India with its streaming service, offering premium English content

Confident about the India market, Lionsgate Play is aiming to reach out to as many as 100 million customers in the years to come

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam

Are you a fan of English films like The Hunger Games or The Twilight or The Step Up series? Do you want to watch them again?

If you are a Vodafone user, you will not have to look too far as Lionsgate, a major global studio, launched Lionsgate Play, its premium streaming service on Vodafone India in August.

Confident about the India market, Lionsgate Play is aiming to reach out to as many as 100 million customers in the years to come.

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And unlike the traditional way of distribution, which is business to consumer (B2C), Lionsgate is focusing on business to business (B2B).

This is why the company has partnered with Vodafone.

“We are driven more by reach. One of our strategies for India is the way we distribute. In the coming quarters, you will hear of collaborations that are in the pipeline,” said Rohit Jain, Managing Director Lionsgate India.

A recent report by KPMG also highlighted the importance of telcos as a distribution medium.

According to a survey conducted by KPMG, three out of 10 users watch online video content on telco platforms. And nearly one out of 10 users said they would subscribe to SVOD platforms if their online video subscription was bundled with their telco bill.

Hence, it is evident that telcos are key distribution partners.

In addition, Jain is also optimistic about the SVOD space.

“People watching content on SVOD model are probably not more than 10-15 million. In the next five years, all this will grow,” he said.

Experts say subscription is going to be an important contributor to the growth of the larger OTT ecosystem, and that the OTT and the SVOD market is poised to grow drastically.

But the other question is whether there is appetite for English content in India?

Jain said, “We have seen that there is a huge market of people who want to watch English content and we are also dubbing it so that it is more relevant to people who may not follow English language.”

So, Lionsgate Play has content in four Indian languages including Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Marathi to reach out to a wider audience.

After all, regional language content finds more traction amid viewers.

However, the regional lineup largely consists of movies with a handful of originals and dubbing has emerged as an effective tool for OTT players.

Jain also added, “Today, there is massive limitation to how much English content is reaching the audience.”

“If you see the television world, post the NTO (New Trai Order) regulation, that universe has crashed to hardly six to seven million customers at best, may be 10 million customers. if you count the overlap between all the channels. We believe there is far bigger audience who want to watch English content or in dubbed, so we want to fill for that lack of availability,” he said.

But another question looms over the OTT industry and that is whether India has the space to accommodate all the video streaming platforms entering the market?

According to Jain, this is one of the biggest misconceptions we are fighting.

“There are probably 25-30 OTT platforms and amid that the worldwide ones are probably five to 10 at best and within that if you look at SVOD (subscription- video on demand) players there are probably three or four and a lot of them are AVODS,” he said.

He added, “Let’s look at a more mature market like the US. It has close to 200 OTT platforms and more than 80 SVOD players. With hardly three-four SVOD players (in India) I find the perception hard that OTT market is overcrowded because OTTs have just started in India.”

He further explained by giving the example of the television industry that had one channel for the longest time.

“Then privatization happened and back then people thought what will eight to 10 channels do but the reality is now we have close to 1,000 channels. There will be lot many players that will come in (in the OTT space). This is just the start,” Jain added.

But what about originals? Something that every other OTT player is banking on.

Is Lionsgate Play planning anything around originals?

For now, Lionsgate has no such plans but they will be soon adding television series (existing) along with movies on their platform.

The production house has to its name hit series like Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead, Ambitions, among others.

“We do have a large production business investing in India but that is independent business. We are developing multiple series but that we are developing as a production house,” said Jain.

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First Published on Sep 9, 2019 06:07 pm
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