#Interview: SVOD and AVOD will co-exist in India since consumers will experiment with both: Rohit Jain, Lionsgate India

Lionsgate Play India
Brand Saga

With the launch of Lionsgate Play in India, Social Samosa gets talking to Rohit Jain, MD, Lionsgate India to know more about the platform’s offerings and strategy.

Vodafone Idea Limited and STARZPLAY, the international premium subscription platform from STARZ, a Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) company, recently joined hands to launch Lionsgate’s premium service Lionsgate Play in India. This partnership will enable Vodafone Idea customers’ access to a broad portfolio of celebrated blockbusters and award-winning feature films from the studio.

Going with the insight that video is the new growth driver in digital content consumption today, Vodafone Idea’s partnership with STARZPLAY is touted to be a step towards boosting the growth of the digital ecosystem in India. The partnership will capitalize on this huge potential by offering viewers with an array of premium content across genres. The content library will be spread across genres like horror, comedy, drama, action, thriller, documentaries to name a few. 

The offering will also boast 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.

Rohit Jain, MD of Lionsgate India puts the spotlight on the company’s India-centric vision, telecom industry-shaping digital content, India’s OTT market and more.

Excerpts:

The vision with which Lionsgate Play has set foot in India?

We are taking big bold steps and launching Lionsgate Play in India in partnership with Vodafone Idea Limited. The offering includes mega-hit franchises including the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, which grossed over $3 billion worldwide, multiple Academy Award® winner La La Land, critically acclaimed international breakout hit Wonder and more, with much of it available in four local languages. The content library will be spread across genres like horror, comedy, drama, action, thriller, documentaries to name a few. Our vision is to provide premium Hollywood content to underserved audiences in India.

With a curated mix of content, we aim to reach 100 million consumers in the coming years.

What does the association with Vodafone Idea entail?

The partnership with Vodafone India creates an exciting opportunity to expand the Lionsgate Play offering as a premium service delivering a vast library of compelling films and a great user experience to all our shared customers. We are delighted to bring this premium service to India with a leading global platform like Vodafone which has an enormous reach and tremendous distribution expertise. We have more distribution tie-ups planned over the next 12-18 months. We have worked with Vodafone in several other markets and it has been a delightful experience to take our content across consumers by leveraging their distribution expertise.

Your view on the role of telecom majors in shaping digital content?

We believe telcos have a huge role to play in the new digital age of content. In years to come, telcos will act as digital aggregator platforms in the same way as DTH / cable acts for linear channels.

What insights and RND led you to join hands with Vodafone and foray into the Indian market?

We are happy to start the service with Vodafone Idea Limited. Starz has partnered with Vodafone in other territories globally and it has been a delightful experience to take our content across consumers by leveraging their distribution expertise. Having said this, we have more distribution.

What will be the marketing strategy going forward? The media mix- also how much of it will digital occupy?

We aim to reach consumers in the coming years through distribution and owned channels using a 360-degree marketing approach. Given the profiling, reach and targeting digital offers, our marketing strategy will largely be skewed towards digital.

In this age where every marketer looks to invest in on-demand services and broadcasters like Reliance launching JioFiber, is the competition becoming intense and how challenging will it for everyone to sustain?

Indian consumers are very smart and they always keep looking for the right deals across all product offerings and consume content basis availability. Reports suggest that they oscillate between different platforms that cater to their specific genre/cast/interests. With more offerings, it will always be a win-win for consumers to figure out what they want to watch and we rightfully fit the bill in this scenario with our curated content mix.

Building loyalty for a content platform is a result of getting many things right, one of the primary ones being getting the right content mix. We firmly believe that we are hitting the right note with our content mix. 

Do you think the Indian OTT market is cluttered or there is scope for more players?

With a focused offering like ours, we think there is definitely room. With 28 academy awards, 32 Emmy awards, an entertainment library of over 17,000 titles, a theatrical film slate that performs both critically and commercially, we have curated our content spread across genres like horror, comedy, action, drama, action, thriller, to name a few.

Also Read: Does Saaho Movie Marketing resonate with the audience

India is a price-sensitive market, which model -SVOD or AVOD- according to you would thrive? Also, are Indians finally ready to pay for content?

SVOD and AVOD are monetization strategies and they will co-exist since consumers will experiment with both and it is important to note that OTT market in India is at a very nascent stage and will go through several transformations and tremendous growth.

How are you creating a differentiation here amidst an abundance of content providers?

We have a focussed service in terms of our content offerings. With 28 academy awards, 32 Emmy awards, an entertainment library of over 17,000 titles, a theatrical film slate that performs both critically and commercially, we have curated our content spread across genres like horror, comedy, action, drama, action, thriller, to name a few.  This unique curation aims at letting the consumer spend more time watching and less time browsing. Another key aspect of our platform is the availability of our content dubbed in four Indian languages – Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, and Tamil. India is a coalescence of different languages and there is an innate interest in consuming content in one’s local language. We want to bridge this gap by dubbing most of our globally acclaimed films in vernaculars.

Reportedly, you also have plans to launch your OTT platform in India. Please elaborate.

This offering is definitely our very own! We strive to maximize our reach and solve for supply in all our endeavors – whether it is B2B2C or B2B. Keeping the consumers at the center, we have set an ambitious roadmap for ourselves in terms of onboarding multiple distribution partners across devices. 

Are you also looking forward to partner with more telcos in the near future?

We are in conversation with several potential partners across consumer-centric industries ranging from telecom, eCommerce, wallets, OEMs etc. We will have more launches happening in the next 12-18 months and we are excited to make our service available across consumers.


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