Lionsgate has picked a lane in the global rush into streaming — premium, in between mass and niche — and it sees a path to reach nearly 60 million global subscribers by 2025.
In its fiscal fourth-quarter report, the company said it had reached 29.5 million total subscribers, 16.7 million of those streaming.
Updating its guidance, the company said during a conference call with analysts that it would be at the high end of a range it had previously provided of 50 million to 60 million subscribers. About 80% of those will be streaming subscribers, the company said.
Invoking Michelle Obama’s famous “low-high” line at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, CEO John Feltheimer said of media rivals, “When they go broad, we go premium.” Elaborating along with Starz chief Jeff Hirsch during a conference call with analysts, he said Starz won’t be a massive, all-things-to-all-people Disney+ or Netflix, but neither will it be a tiny niche service. The service is expanding globally and boosting its scripted lineup by 70% over the next year, “the biggest and broadest slate in the history of the business,” Hirsch said.
“It seems quite reasonable” to imagine Starz reaching about 20% of the scale of Disney+ or Netflix over the next four years, Feltheimer said. “We don’t think 30 million subs is a niche service. If we wanted to be in niche services, we wouldn’t have sold Pantaya,” a Spanish-language streaming outlet in which Lionsgate was a stakeholder. “We think 30 going to 60, that’s a big business. We want to be the market leader in premium, and that’s how we’ll build our value.”
Hirsch also noted that Lionsgate is “playing more of a retention game” than many media companies in streaming. Churn was at an all-time low in the quarter, he said, with expectations for it to drop into single-digit percentages as the slate and distribution expand.
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