Lionsgate’s streaming service Lionsgate Play hosts a curation of Hollywood library of popular and successful films across various genres. The online streaming player entered the Indian OTT market with low investment by way of some smart telco partnerships with Vodafone Play, Idea and Airtel Xstream.
In this Straight Talk, Rohit Jain, MD Lionsgate South Asia spoke toMedianews4u about the plan for the over-crowded Indian OTT market.
What is the spike in content consumption you have seen in the Covid-19 lockdown period? How do you plan to convert this lockdown habit viewing into a regular habit post the lockdown opens?
In terms of the content consumed on the platform during the lockdown period, we have doubled our consumption in terms of stream time. We have beefed up our content in all the categories and are looking to maintain this uptake by having introduced Friday Blockbusters series which includes exclusive premieres. We release one new movie on Lionsgate Play every Friday. We are expanding our regional dubbed content library. Recently we released John Wick-3 In Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Telegu along with English and have seen a phenomenal response for the same. One thing is clear Indian audiences love Hollywood action-packed titles in their own languages so we will continue to invest in these.
Further, we are introducing more content across genres. While our core TG is the Young Adult to Mature adults age bracket, we have some kids content on the platform too which has seen a spike in consumption. We will study this pattern for some time and see if there is a need for us to increase kids’ content for our TG with children.
Tell us about your content library for the Indian market and what makes Lionsgate content different from any other international content studio?
Our content offering is unique not only in India but even Internationally. We always look at bringing and introducing out of the box stories. Our endeavor is to bring fast-paced, edgy content as our consumer loves these stories. You will always see a new take on characters be it the undying human spirit communicated by Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Hunger Games or going to any extreme for a cause you believe in for Keanu Reeves’ character in John Wick or the supportive mother from Wonder, Julia Roberts. We focus on strong characters leading the narrative as that’s what builds a deep connection with the consumer. Indian market is no different, the only thing we try to do differently is to curate content according to Indian sensibilities. E.g. Horror and Action as genres are loved by Indian audiences so we over-index there and ensure our titles are available in local languages.
How was the response for digital premiers that were a part of the Friday Blockbuster series? Which are the other movies Lionsgate Play is planning to premiere in the near future?
The response has been phenomenal, we started this property in the month of April and premiered one of our biggest title JOHN WICK 3 in India for the first time. We then even dubbed key titles for consumers to enjoy in their language of choice. We carefully curate the movies that we release on every Friday so that our consumers can sit at home and enjoy the movie experience. In the month of May, Lionsgate Play will be hosting the digital premier of our Oscar winner for this year BOMBSHELL, which was in cinemas until very recently followed by movies like Now you see me 2 , Primal, The fighter and Sex drive. We have also dubbed some of these movies in local languages.
English entertainment is a niche market. How do you plan to make that into a mass viewing habit?
While the market is niche but the consumer is also always exploring unique content to satisfy his needs. We have various genres/franchises that are almost cult for example Dance movies like Step Up series, Action movies with an edge where we have a female super hero like Hunger Games or redefining action movies with titles like John Wick. Our latest movies Knives out & Bombshell have also enjoyed tremendous love at the box office and the fact that our consumers keep wanting more of this content gives us the belief that there is a huge potential. We plan to eradicate language as a barrier and want to cater to the Indian audiences with amazing Hollywood content in their own language.
What’s been the response for the dubbing English content into regional languages been for Lionsgate Play? Does that give you enough reasons to jump into the ‘Original Content Race’?
The response so far has been great, we have dubbed in languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi, Kannada so far. We are now getting requests from our consumers to further extend to languages like Bhojpuri, Bengali. This is a testimony to the fact that great content and hyperlocal packaging for the same has brought us closer to our regional audiences. We shall have some news on Originals soon, we will keep you posted.
What’s your detailed plan on regional content for now and for when you launch Lionsgate Play as a separate OTT platform going forward?
Our plan is to dub our movies in languages that are most consumed in India. We are making tremendous investments in hyperlocal marketing for the dubbed content as well. We are also extending dubbed titles to many more languages. When we launch our own app, dubbed content will play a big role in connecting to our consumers and we will continue to create a unique proposition for this consumer as well.
What is the sort of user base do you tap into with strategic alliance and partnerships with telcos such as Vodafone, Idea and Airtel? What’s the response you have got for your content across these platforms?
Our partnership with telco operators creates an exciting opportunity to expand the Lionsgate Play offering as a premium service delivering a vast library of compelling films and a great user experience to all our shared customers. The response to our content across our telco partnerships has been remarkable not only in terms of reach but also in terms of exceeding key consumption metrics. We work very closely with the telco teams to deliver the right kind of content while utilizing their distribution expertise.
Do you think the Indian OTT market is overcrowded and we’ve seen what happened to the likes of Viu and Hooq? How different will your positioning strategy for Lionsgate Play be from the rest of the competition?
We think the market is open and there is demand for every type of content by different types of consumers. Today the consumers want to watch content that resonates with them. Our positioning is very clear, our content stands to be edgy, fast paced and unique. We will give our consumers access to explore the thrilling world of Lionsgate.