Lionsgate’s Packer: No Template for Digital Deals


SAN FRANCISCO — Despite the rapid growth in sales of movie and TV content to over-the-top and subscription streaming services like Netflix, standard templates for structuring these deals have yet to be established, according to James Packer, president of worldwide television and digital distribution, Lionsgate.

“There isn’t really any consistency” in how those deals are structured and put together, he said at the Next TV Summit here on Sept 11. “It’s a lot of fun as you’re doing things for the first time.”

The proliferation of OTT platforms has opened up more opportunities than ever before, creating “a golden age of distribution,” Packer contended during an interview with Broadcasting & Cable editor in chief Melissa Grego.

But the complexity of taking advantage of those platforms is also changing the way distributors must approach the market. At the start of his career, Packer noted, syndication was the sole outlet for TV shows.

Now, he said, studios look at many windowing opportunities and are constantly challenged to come up with new and more flexible ways to move their content through myriad outlets.

Changes in windowing, though, have jumbled the process of tracking and exploiting rights. Lionsgate is in the process of hiring new people to manage those rights, Packer said.

“It isn’t just a matter of tracking them,” he said. “It’s opening up opportunities by letting us know when the rights are opening up so we can sell them.”

One of the big headaches of the new platforms is lack of data. Netflix and others offer little information about the performance of programs and no data about how other shows from other distributors have performed, according to Packer. That makes it difficult to determine the value of those rights and complicates the process of selling Netflix original series because Lionsgate can’t go to potential clients with ratings, he said.

George Winslow is a contributing editor to Broadcasting & Cable.