Lionsgate Play, which launched in India officially in December 2020, has big plans for the country. With a vast repository of global content, the platform is already building on working Indian Originals that it will launch later this year. Currently, it is working on localizing content in several Indian languages. And despite being one of the newest entrants in India, Rohit Jain, Managing Director, South Asia and Networks – Emerging Markets Asia, Lionsgate is confident that the platform will be able to become one of the top five players in the country within the next five years.
Lionsgate Play is backed by Starz, a premium global streaming platforms. The platform is already available in 56 countries. Recently, it announced its launch in Indonesia and is already eyeing newer markets in South Asia and South East Asia.
However, considering the fact there are many India’s within India, we asked Jain his strategy of cracking the market. When asked if he feels this was a good time to enter the country, where many premium player already have a head start, Jain said, “In India, if you look at SVOD platforms, there are just 4-5 established players. If you look at the US, there are around 80 subscription platforms. Our play worldwide is pure subscription. We feel India, in terms of both subscription and premium content is still an underserved market. We’ve also come in at a time when the expansion is just starting to blow up now. The year 2000-2005 saw the massive expansion of cable in India and 2010-15 was all about the expansion of DTH. Now 2020-25 belongs to OTT and we really are at the beginning of that five-year expansion phase. So in that sense, we are quite happy about our timing.”
2020 saw most industries hit a roadblock. However, the OTT industry did brisk business, thanks to people being stuck at home and with an appetite for consuming newer, premium content. “2020 was a defining year for OTT. Our sense is, at the start of 2020, subscribers in India would not have been more than 10-15 million. However, by the end of the year, that number was closer to 30-35 million. I believe the consumer adoption for all digital companies was fast-forwarded by 4-5 years,” he said.
Jain maintains that the platform’s global strategy is quite differentiated. “Most large players like Amazon, Disney to Netflix and Hulu in the US are going after the family audiences. We are known for premium content which is uber-urban and very edgy and our offering is for young to mature adults. So in that sense, we become quite complementary and can be consumed with other platforms which are great for family.
While working on creating a strong content slate, what will also give them an edge, feels Jain, is their efforts towards localizing the content available on their platform. “While most of our content is global, we are putting substantial investments on localizing the content in many Indian languages,” he said. “In fact, we have just started experimenting in Bhojpuri too,” he added.
When players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video was trying to expand in India, they had gone big on OOH advertising, while also using a lot of Digital. So what has Lionsgate Play’s strategy been? “We have used quite a bit of OOH and since we really like sports as a medium, we also marketed during the India-Australia Series. Of course Digital is the biggest medium but we will also be doing a Print campaign that you will see for the next 2-3 months. So we are dabbling with different mediums at different times and it’s more of a 360 degree approach for us,” he explained.
So is he focusing a lot on numbers? “We certainly have a business plan for India and have a number in mind. However, for our global CEO Jeff, India is one of his five key markets so unfortunately whatever number I put will be short of his expectations,” he said with a laugh. Reacting to the uptake the platform has seen in India so far, he said, “There’s tremendous opportunity and potential here and we’re quite happy with the response we’ve seen so far. As we keep adding more layers of content, we’ll continue getting stronger.”
And by when does he believe India will become one of the top five markets for Lionsgate Play? “If we look at the five year period of growth between 2020 and 2025, I certainly believe India will be among the top five markets for us globally,” concluded Jain. Business Insider