Lionsgate says OTT has reduced the language barrier and made the audience language agnostic

  • Lionsgate is a Canadian-American company which launched in India in December 2020.
  • The company is working to onboard Bollywood movies alongside release of originals like Feels Like Home and Hiccups and Hookups.
  • An average user spends at least 80 minutes on Lionsgate.
  • Business Insider India speaks to Amit Dhanuka, executive vice president, Lionsgate exclusively to get an insight into India’s OTT market and the company’s content play.

One of the newest players in India’s OTT industry, Lionsgate launched its services in the country in December 2020 and is carving out a space for itself among the Indian audiences.

The Canadian-American entertainment company is betting big on India. With 65 plus yearly title launches and a stated aim of gaining 10-15 million Indian subscribers, Lionsgate is competing against Netflix India, Amazon Prime India, Apple TV Originals and Disney+Hotstar for eyeballs.

Lionsgate has a repertoire of Hollywood shows and is developing Indian originals such as Hiccups and Hookups and Feels Like Home.

India is an important market for Lionsgate and is expected to be one of its top five markets globally by 2025. Business Insider India spoke to Amit Dhanuka, executive vice president, Lionsgate, to get an insight into the India OTT market and the company’s content play .

Edited excerpts:

Which type of content works best for India at Lionsgate?

We have seen that the trend of content is pretty consistent over a period of time. There are two or three pieces of content that work – one, good stories always find audiences. Second, their genre also plays a role. we did Hiccups and Hookups which is a very urban story but it found great audiences across the country. Jungle cry was about a bunch of boys who participated in a rugby championship. Typically we have seen that action, thriller genres slightly outperformed the other genres. Their engagement levels are higher.

When it comes to gender diversity in shows and movies, what has been Lionsgate’s approach in India?

We are the torchbearers for gender diversity. Our lineup of shows have female protagonists. Even when we launched our first edition in India, we had female leads in Hiccups and Hookups. We are consistently working around two accounts- gender diversity and inclusion. Lionsgate has also gone and represented African-American, Hispanic and Latin American communities on a global stage. The industry itself is changing as it is moving away from a male-centric view. It is now talent as opposed to gender.

How is Lionsgate investing in regional cinema and content?

We are trying to represent India as a whole but as of now we are slightly more focused on Hindi along with our Hollywood content. As we evolve in southeast Asia, we are going to look at regional Indian content. As of now, that’s not a priority. Jungle cry is a great example of how it does not need to be a local dialect but a local story also works wonders. We are currently releasing 65 plus titles in a year. Globally, our budget is around $2 billion.

Which movies are creating the most amount of buzz?

Feels Like Home is coming up with its second season. We are premiering Serpent Queen, Jerusalem, Unscripted Graham Norton and we just did Emmys. We want to present the type of content that customers have something to look forward to every Friday.

How many minutes does an average user spend using Lionsgate?

Our completion rate for series and movies is very high. Feels like Home alone had a 50% completion rate, which is significant. If we quantify our series, at least two to five episodes are being consumed. An average time spent per user on Lionsgate is at least 80 minutes, sometimes going upwards (to) 100 minutes.

How has the partnership with prime channels helped Lionsgate in India?

We are also one of the largest partners globally when it comes to partnership with prime channels. In India, we have had a fantastic partnership with our launch of prime channels in the past 12 months. The subscribers in India on Lionsgate are paying annual subscriptions directly as opposed to monthly subscriptions.

Apart from Hindi, what language shows are Indians interested in?

What OTT has done is reduced the language barrier considerably and made the audience slightly language agnostic. Earlier, the only way you could watch a dubbed movie was in a theater or on television but it did not create any considerable monetary opportunity and OTT has tapped into that market – whether it is Korean content popular in India, or Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu content being watched in Hindi speaking markets.

We did a great experiment with a dubbed Arabic movie called Jerusalem and because of great content, it performed excellently in India.

Can OTTs hold their own space with theater releases by Bollywood?

Brahmāstra was recently released in theaters and even though it will be released on OTT soon, I went to watch it in a theatre. The experience in a theater is different. That experience cannot be replicated on a small screen. What OTT does is it lets you watch at the time and place of your choosing. Each has a different need they are serving. Lionsgate also looks forward to onboarding upcoming Bollywood movies.

Lionsgate India releases slated for October 2022

The Serpent Queen
Departure Season 3
The Graham Norton Show
Feels Like Home Season 2

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