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Lionsgate Positions Itself As Content ‘Arms Dealer’ For AVOD Streamers In Marketplace

Michael King

Moviemaker Lionsgate is looking at its new position as an ‘arms dealer’ to AVOD providers like The Roku Channel and others with available movie and television titles.

The company’s AVOD streaming revenue has grown dramatically in the past five years, according to Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s President of Worldwide Television and Digital Distribution.

“Our AVOD revenue — just in the U.S. in 2016, we had about 14 clients, and we were doing less than $10 million of revenue in that segment of my business. In 2021, we have close to 40 AVOD clients, and we’re going to do almost — well, I think we’re going to do over $100 million,” Packer said.

What’s responsible for the growth? For one thing, as he pointed out, the sheer number of buyers in the marketplace.

“I look at the amount of buyers on a title like Expendables, one of our better franchises,” Packer said. “In 2018, in an average year, we’d have 8 buyers. Now we have about 15 buyers. So the people that can afford something like Expendables because it’s not an inexpensive movie, has gone up.”

Packer pointed not only to distribution in the United States, but overseas as well.

“Latin America is up about 50% in the last 5 years for us,” he said. “So if you look at the actual number of buyers down there for a library like ours, it’s really a question of how do we … maximize, not do we have enough buyers (there).”

Packer pointed out that so-called “failed” television properties are getting more attention from AVOD streamers.

“I think one of the more interesting things you’re seeing is — look at Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, which was a big NBC sitcom. Went for 2 years. Incredible loyal fan base. And then all of a sudden, (it) didn’t get renewed at NBC, but Roku stepped up and bought a 2-hour holiday movie,” he said. “I think we’re very opportunistic in that way. We will produce what we think is commercially relevant that has a good P&L backing and that we think adds to our library.”

In addition, Lionsgate is the parent company of premium channel Starz.

“From a production standpoint about what’s new and what are we putting our resources behind; We will, number one, primarily make sure we take care of whatever the appropriate shows are for Starz. So that’s a big push of ours. They buy shows from others, but they buy a lot from our TV group,” Packer said. “When you look at our global distribution group, they get 5 or 6 or 7 up to 10 shows a year that are Lionsgate shows. So we still produce everything from (upcoming fall 2021 shows) Home Economics on ABC, Ghosts on CBS.”

Circling back to the number of SVOD and AVOD players Packer thinks will be in play in the streaming marketplace remains a big question, overall. Of course, the final figure will be determined by consumers.

“I think the part that’s going to be the question mark that I don’t know, is a year or 2 ago, people would have said, I only think it’s going to be 2 or 3 SVODs that people are going to be willing to own. (Based on) some of the stuff I’m reading now, I think everybody has realized it could be 3, 4, 5 SVODs — and then it gets supplemented by AVOD,” he said.

Roku Channel

The Roku Channel is a free live TV streaming service that provides 270+ live linear streaming channels and more than 80,000 free movies and TV shows. The library contains entertainment from several different decades, including some major hits.

The service also made a splash by the acquisition of the Quibi library, now presented as Roku Originals. More original content is set to follow.

Users can add premium subscriptions to services like Showtime, STARZ, and AMC+ that can be accessed within the Roku Channel ecosystem.