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Global OTT player Starz launches Lionsgate Play in India

Lionsgate Play is being placed as a pure-play SVOD service targeting the 15-45 age groups. The app will bring a range of content ranging from feature films, premieres and original content to the audiences

Promising to bring premium high-budget content to the audiences, Starz, a global OTT platform, has launched Lionsgate Play in India. The SVOD platform is committed to innovation in its content, technology, pricing and accessibility by making premium Hollywood content available in multiple Indian languages.

Rohit Jain

Speaking at the launch of the platform, Rohit Jain, Managing Director, Lionsgate South Asia, said the content curtain will be at the centre of the platform. “One of the insights that we constantly see, in all our research and all our feedback, is the complexity of decision making. What do I watch next? That's really the question all audiences struggle over the weekends and over their free time. Curation is the centre of our service, curating based on the world's best-in-class cinematic experience, world-class content that's core to our content philosophy.”

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Jain said the platform will aim at telling urban, edgy, untold provocative stories. “You will see new content being added every week, every fortnight every month, that's been our core philosophy at so many levels across the world. For the affinity to local language Indian consumers, we will be investing big in original content. We look at originals in an interesting way. I think one of the things technology truly allows us is to break through the barriers of geography, language, culture and it truly allows us to look at the world as a big common marketplace, with communities of interest for different kinds of genres storytelling and interesting areas around content,” he said.

“We are making sure we have one common original pipeline, picking up the best stories from different parts of the world,” he added.

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He said they will bring Indian originals from the next calendar year, partnering with accomplished filmmakers such as Kunal Kohli, Mukesh Bhatt, Anil Kapoor and production houses like Endemol and Reverie. Jain said the Indian originals are also being made with an eye on the global audience and can be placed in the network’s US and European markets.

“I'd like to believe we have a very well-rounded slate. We have collaborated with really accomplished makers and I am very excited with all the partnerships that we have in originals that we are making in India, which is not an overdose of crime and content, which is what I feel a little overwhelmed with, sometimes. There will be edgy dramas, slice-of-life stories, comedy, some very interesting stories coming your way,” he added.

According to Jain, the SVOD market will see an expansion over the next five years in India. He said the Indian market will start hitting hundred million subscribers for SVOD, which is a pretty sizable interesting base, and they hope to get a reasonable share of that pie. 

The app is priced at Rs 99 per month and Rs 699 annually.  “With both these monthly and annual prices, we hope we are opening a new, very attractive and aggressive price point. I mean, if you come to think of it, it's year-long entertainment at the price of a coffee for a couple. So, you know, hopefully, this is something our customers would love.”

Jeffrey A. Hirsch

Jeffrey A. Hirsch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Starz, said, “India has always been a key market for us. The large and diverse population increased data usage in urban and rural markets, and the adoption of OTT across all demographics created an exciting opportunity for us to launch Lionsgate Play. We’re confident that our unique, exclusive and exceptionally curated content will generate a great response from Indian audiences.”

“Today's launch is a strong signal of the significant growth regenerating at Starz. We recently reported a record quarter in subscribers and soon we'll be expanding into 55 countries around the world, securing our position as the fastest-growing global premium OTT service worldwide. We expect continued strong growth as we enter the Indian OTT ecosystem, and intend to drive this trajectory towards reaching our goal by 2025 to 15-25 million over-the-top international subscribers by focusing on three core drivers: content, technology, and local market optimisation,” he added.

Hirsch said the global SVOD space is evolving differently. “The Netflixes, Hulus and Amazons are trying to be broad in their content portfolios. They're serving kids, they're serving the parents; they’re serving the young, depending on the channel that you have signed up for. We were very focused on adult premium, non-ad-supported content. We don't have kids, we don't have news, we don't have sports, we don't have advertising. It's very focused on adult content that we like to send that people are willing to pay for and we'll continue to lean into that strategy in a big way.”

Jain said the marketing of the platform will be premium in line with the target audience, the content philosophy and the global legacy. “Starting in line with the affinity we have as consumers to Bollywood stars, we have collaborated with a host of stars for promoting our brand and our content. We are happy to share with you that we're collaborating with Tiger Shroff, who I truly believe is a megastar in his generation today. We're also collaborating with very talented Kriti Sanon and Sanjana Sanghi.  There will also be a host of Hollywood celebrities throughout our marketing journey coming in helping us promote.” He said there will be an extensive outdoor campaign and they will focus on high impact properties such as the India-Australia series.

Amit Dhanuka

Speaking about how the new platform is placed in the crowded OTT market in India, Amit Dhanuka, Executive Vice-President at Lionsgate, said, “As a country, we have a market for even more apps to come in the future. However, not all apps cater to all audiences. Some apps are regional, some are mass markets. We are very clear about our TG. We are looking at the youth 15-45 segment and we are a pure-play SVOD service. If you look at pure-play SVOD services in the country, there are not more than three to four of them.”

Dhanuka said they will continue to expand the distribution footprint. “Lionsgate is one of the largest creators of content worldwide. We create not only for our own platforms but also the third parties. Within that, we have a high slate of premium original content that we are doing for our own platform worldwide, which obviously will get translated into India also, which has a high volume of original content.”

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