In conversation with Lionsgate's EVP, Amit Dhanuka, we get a perspective from a newcomer latest entrant who has ventured into the streaming space to compete with existing OTT heavyweights.
Lionsgate Play debuted during the pandemic in India and has already cast some of Hollywood’s A-listers, including Julia Roberts, in its upcoming venture. Unlike other OTT players, this platform began with the goal of breaking down stereotypes for streaming content and is said to have India’s first sitcom based on the exploits of professional gamers.
Amit Dhanuka, Lionsgate’s EVP, answers key questions about the platform, which is ready to compete with OTT powerhouses like Netflix and Prime Video. Here, we take a deep dive into the rapid technological advancements, as well as the future of television for ever-changing customers and much more.
The competition among OTT platforms is on the rise. How well-placed is Lionsgate in this sector?
OTT competition has now reached a ripe stage in India. We now see international and local players in the segment co-exist and grow due to the growing consumer demand. As this grows exponentially, we can expect the viewer’s taste to become more refined with what they wish to stream. Lionsgate Play is well-positioned to cater to this demand as a premium streaming service that provides hand-picked films and series to entertain its viewers.
What is the future of television in the ever-evolving consumer?
We live in a day and age where content is being viewed on smartphones and tablets. Consumers are spoilt for choice with their favourite films and shows available in multiple languages, genres, and formats aiding uptake of OTT services. Television as a medium of consumption will not cease in importance; instead, we can expect a blending of functions.
Given the level of digitisation and the rapid technological improvements, what future trends do you predict in the future?
In the coming years, owing to India’s vast demography in the coming years, we can expect OTTs to compete to capture regional markets by offering customized titles. We have already set out on that path at Lionsgate Play by providing original series in numerous regional languages and introducing international titles in regional languages. As per the latest FICCI-EY report, by 2025, regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of the aggregate market, showing the high potential it holds for the future.
Curation over mass enlisting of titles on platforms will ensure greater content discovery for consumers. This can be remarkably enhanced by leveraging viewers’ interests to offer personalized suggestions to make their streaming experience more engaging in the coming years.
Additionally, service bundling can be expected to become a consumer preference that will allow them to cruise through a greater number of titles across platforms. It will also open up a sub-base for aggregators, which would be exhaustive, if the individual platforms had to go on and acquire them.
Where does Lionsgate find its niche in new-age content? Which audiences does Lionsgate relate to the most?
In streaming, apart from 3 global players, there isn’t another brand that stands out and provides audiences access to urban content and genres across action, thriller, comedy, drama and more. Over the next few years, Lionsgate Play hopes to become a brand that offers audiences compelling stories with stand-out content, that keeps our viewers engaged as per their preferences. We want to become the go-to platform for cinephiles and overcome their challenges of seeking out popular and lesser-known titles of foreign or independent productions. We also want to take their streaming experience to the next level by mapping their preferences and introducing them to newer and fresher titles.
Give us an overview of how consumer demand has changed over the years, with special emphasis on the post-pandemic world?
As the pandemic restricted movement in theatres, people turned to entertainment at home, resulting in consumers increasingly tuning into streaming platforms to watch their favourite content. This led to digital subscriptions growing by 29% in 2020, as per the FICCI-EY report. Viewers are now tuned into the idea of paid subscriptions. With investments in original content, the platform has risen multi-fold, leading to consumers adopting OTT as their primary source of content consumption.
Narrow down on the specific ways in which Lionsgate has met the demands of its audience via new platforms?
At Lionsgate Play, we strive to become the platform of choice with a unique personality by offering differentiated stories tailor-made for audiences. We believe in ‘Play More Browse Less’, wherein we intend to provide consumers with a curated line-up of content for the best viewing experience. We provide viewers with easy access to stream the biggest releases monthly through our partnerships with Prime Video channels, Apple TV+, and Airtel Xstream. From premiers to original content, from action and thriller to comedy – Lionsgate Play is a one-stop platform catering to different genres. With an innovation focussed mindset, we have a digital and influencer-driven strategy offering differentiated stories tailor-made for audience.