Lionsgate Eyeing BeFit SVOD Service7 Nov, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Already a major content creator for subscription streaming and TV, Lionsgate will limit OTT ventures to specific brands and audiences
Lionsgate is considering expanding its BeFit YouTube channel into a broader standalone over-the-top video platform, CEO Jon Feltheimer disclosed in the company’s Nov. 7 fiscal call.
BeFit, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers to its ad-supported YouTube fitness channel, last month underscored its growing presence in the competitive healthy lifestyle market by partnering with a nutritional supplement company to develop a line of branded nutritional supplements.
Lionsgate, of course, is a major content producer for television and SVOD services, including Netflix’s most-popular original series, “Orange Is the New Black,” and “Manhattan,” the latter available on Hulu the day after its broadcast airing.
Lionsgate last month announced a partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival about a SVOD service called “Tribeca Short List” that will include some of its movies as well as third-party curated content.
Lionsgate has partnered with Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba for a transactional VOD service in Asia. Notably, during the fiscal call, Feltheimer and vice chairman Michael Burns did little to dissuade media speculation Lionsgate’s largest shareholder, Mark Rachesky, is in talks to sell his 37.4% stake to Alibaba.
“We obviously can’t comment on speculation in the press about any of our shareholders, including our largest and very supportive Mark Rachesky,” Burns said.
Regardless, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based mini-major has no plans to launch a standalone OTT service featuring its content.
“In general, as we’re looking at these online channels, whether it’s migrating BeFit to a subscription channel or Tribeca Short List, most of the [digital] channels we will invest in [will be] be more branded, [and] more focused on affinity groups [than the general consumer],” Feltheimer said. “We think there’s a real strong opportunity to have some expansion or boutique array of online channels, but probably fairly focused.”
Separately, Feltheimer said the studio has begun deploying 360-degree cameras in select scenes of movies to take advantage of changing technologies that involve viewers using a virtual reality headset (i.e. Oculus Rift) when watching video content and playing games.
“We’re pretty excited about it. We think that’s one of the enhancements that will make our home entertainment significantly more valuable,” Feltheimer said. “We think its pretty cool technology starting to happen out there.”
Finally, Lioinsgate said it would develop an “innovative and immersive” “Hunger Games” theatrical show set to debut on a special stage near London’s Wembley Stadium in 2016. Dubbed The Hunger Games, the stage musical will be produced by Robin de Levita, creator of the Soldier of Orange musical.