Lionsgate set to enter OTT fray in India

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on August 19, 2019 Published on August 19, 2019

Lionsgate in partnership with Vodafone India to all mobile and broadband customers of Vodafone using their Vodafone Play service and via the Idea! website

Canadian-American entertainment company Lionsgate is all set to create its foothold in Indian OTT space.

Lionsgate, through a partnership with Vodafone, will be the most recent entrant in the OTT space, with more than 35 companies having launched their online streaming platforms in India.

Lionsgate, the company that created hits like The Hunger Games, Twilight and La La Land will offer customers in India, more than one thousand hours of blockbuster and feature films and unscripted content from the studio starting with Vodafone Play.

According to the partnership, Lionsgate Play will be available on Vodafone India to all mobile and broadband customers of Vodafone using their Vodafone Play service and via the Idea! website. The offering will have a line up of digital premieres of Lionsgate films coming to the service in the first year including Robin Hood, Spy Who Dumped Me, Long Shot, Anna, Simple Favor and American Assassin.

“Our understanding is that between the three telcos in India, there are about 400 million customers and each of the telcos is focusing on building their content platform. We are happy to ride on that,” Rohit Jain, Managing Director Lionsgate India, told BusinessLine.

Jain said the company is working on similar partnerships with other telcos as well. "We have a roadmap for 12-18 months. We will announce more partnerships soon. The idea is to work with large distributors and aggregators to access our customers," Jain said.

While most OTT services begin with their own independent platforms before taking the aggregation route, Lionsgate has decided to take the reverse route, which means it will first offer its content on aggregator platforms such as Vodafone Play and Amazon Channels (Amazon's upcoming aggregator offering for Prime Video). It will then finally launch its independent OTT service in India.

"There's a gap in the market for Hollywood content and its reach. Be it linear channels or OTTs, there's limited reach. We are first trying to get that reach," Jain said.

As the competition intensifies in the OTT market, most players are looking at partnering with others to have a larger access to the market. While most of the large OTT players already have some partnerships with the telcos, others are looking at partnering with content companies like Lionsgate to expand their library.

Zee5 for example announced a partnership recently with AltBalaji, allowing all its paid subscribers to also get AltBalaji content. Hotstar similarly partnered with Hooq to expand its Hollywood library.

Lionsgate has a global partnership with Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Channels, which means once these platforms are available in India, Lionsgate content will also be available on them without paying anything extra.

We are also dubbing a lot of this content in Indian languages. There is a massive latent demand for this. We are starting with Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.

Lionsgate, which started operations in India less than 2 years back , has been working on setting up more such partnerships here as well as make the content more relevant for the Indian audience. For example, all the Lionsgate content on Vodafone Play would also be available in four regional languages--Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi.

Published on August 19, 2019
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