Lionsgate hasn’t unveiled a mega deal yet, but top executives at the Hollywood studio spoke at an investor conference on Wednesday about the benefits of potentially spun off its studio business.
“It will definitely help every part of our ecosystem, not just an individual franchise like hunger games or John Wick,Packer told the Wells Fargo TMT Summit during a webcast session. Packer, who recently signed licensing agreements for the upcoming John Wick TV origin story The Continental at Peacock, the comedy Ghosts at Paramount+ and Schitt’s Creek at Hulu insisted that the studio can continue to sell titles to a variety of streaming platforms, not just Starz, as the traditional premium cable channel pivots to the streaming space.
And Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, predicted no major disruption at its motion picture division as the studio explores options for Starz, including a possible separation of its pay-TV and streaming operations from its studio operations. The goal appears to be to create two standalone companies so that investors can value the Starz and studio assets separately.
“I don’t think we’re going to do that any differently. What it will do is give everyone a real insight into what the studio does and the value it creates,” Drake argued. He and Packer, like other top executives at Lionsgate, recently renewed their long-term deals with the studio just as it explores its studio business as it rebrands its StarzPlay streaming platform as Lionsgate+ in a slew of markets outside of the US.
While some would-be suitors seem to see Starz as a streaming platform, others see Lionsgate and its programming library as a possible acquisition of indie studios as digital titans like Apple and Amazon push into Hollywood. Packer argued that the rise of ad-supported streaming platforms has given Lionsgate even more doors to knock on as it looks to sell its content pipeline globally.
At the same time, he pointed to a slight downturn recently among streamers and their acquisition budgets. “There’s a little pruning now and then,” Packer reported.
Drake added that the studio continued to weigh the relative strengths of the multiplex or streaming platforms when it comes to launching movies commercially. “Because we still see so much value in the theater space, and because Jim and his team can sell to anyone in the world and to any strategy, and we’re not committed to our pipeline, we can be flexible and do all sorts of things.” things,” Drake argued.
And Packer pointed out that Apple TV+ is now buying library movie products from third-party vendors, Amazon continues to buy movies outside of its MGM library, and Netflix with its ad-supported streaming offering needs that product, suggesting that Lionsgate will continue to see a booming market among streamers for its movie and TV content.
“If that ad product works, and I think it will because Netflix is a sharp company and they’ll figure it out, I think they want more of their content to be ad-friendly and that’s a new revenue stream that we’ve got until now not really tapped into it yet,” Packer said.