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Lionsgate Looking to Syndicate SVOD Content

31 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Lionsgate is eyeing syndicating to television original series currently in production for subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The reverse distribution strategy comes as buzz surrounding original programming on SVOD platforms (i.e. Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development”) creates interest in distributing the content to homes that don’t use streaming services.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Lionsgate is readying women’s prison dramedy “Orange Is the New Black” for release July 11 on Netflix. It is also producing a comedy for Hulu and animated comedy for Amazon Prime Instant Video.

“These lines are blurring,” Kevin Beggs, president of the television group, said in a May 31 fiscal call. “I’m confident when the syndication window opens up on a show like ['Orange Is the New Black'] … there are going to be a number of TV players that want to license that product.”

With Lionsgate not tied down to so-called “legacy” deals with SVOD players for blocks of content, management feels it has the ability to sign different kinds of deals with the streaming platforms, including reconfiguring home entertainment release windows, according to CEO Jon Feltheimer.

“We think there is competition being created in all of the territories [due to SVOD] that’s going to allow us to take advantage of the huge amount of content we’ve been investing in for the past 13 years,” Feltheimer said.

Beggs added that when Lionsgate first announced “Black,” several networks approached asking for introductions to Netflix for possible joint ventures. He said the interest underscores the reality that while SVOD generates a lot of excitement in the media, more than 90 million cable households don’t use the platforms.

“We’re pretty confident about the reverse windowing, if you will, and what can happen going forward,” he said.

Indeed, Steve Beeks, co-COO and president of the motion picture group, reiterated that Lionsgate licenses several TV series and movies to Hulu and Hulu Plus.

“We expect them to be a growing customer for us in the future,” Beeks said.

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