“Asia is a priority market for Lionsgate”: Kevin Beggs


CANNES: Lionsgate is scrutinising the Asian market.  For the company which has been in the channel business in Asia through joint ventures for the past five years, the region now features in the priority market list.

Addressing the audience at MIPCOM 2014, Lionsgate chairman Kevin Beggs said that with its Hong Kong office, the company is also pushing into India. “Shows like Orange is the New Black in China represent a huge revenue growth for us, which before was pretty close to nothing,” he said, adding that while the region is temperamental in a way, it is also very promising.

The theatrical side of Lionsgate is in deep discussions about bringing more films into Asia. “We are looking at developing shows that could find itself in the market now. It’s a priority for the company, but it is also an emerging market for us, that will go a long way at making us strong, and we are focused on it,” informed Beggs.  

Lionsgate, the creators of ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Manhattan’, ‘Mad Men’ is a firm believer of having a global look, while making a show. “Both Mad Men and Orange Is The New Black are high quality shows, which we were hoping would be liked by the global audiences. It has exceeded expectations,” he said.

The company keeps its eyes open for finding great partnerships across the globe. “We are talking to people all the time. We are finding the perfect shows that we can co-commission or commission simply for the UK or Germany or France pay market. It is a high priority for us,” informed Beggs.

Lionsgate has auctioned many formats so far in different markets. “We always look for the right thing to adapt,” he added.

Beggs also touched upon the streaming services that have started playing a key role. “While television has ad breaks with 42 or 43 minutes of drama, the streaming services have no advertising obligation. And they have a much longer running time and no breaks. The storytelling of ‘Orange is the New Black’ on Netflix is very different. It takes a lot of digressions on the shows, and because people will re-watch, one has a lot of freedom to tell a story in a much more serialised and novelised way. There is no need for a dramatic ending before a commercial break, so that people can come back. So the pacing is interesting from our standpoint as well,” he said.

He feels that in a scenario like this, the writers have to do a great job and also as producers “we need to understand the audience and what would hold them back. Audiences can watch the whole season of a series in a few hours and would wait for the next season, which would take a year. So this is different,” he informed.

Beggs believes that there will be more streaming players in the future. “It the next two years or so, there will be six to seven new streaming services or may be more,” he stated. Citing the reason for the change, which could see some big players jumping into it, he said that streaming business, on a pay basis, does not need a huge number of subscribers to breakeven.  “Brands will follow where the audiences are,” he concluded.

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