Technology

On Demand Summit: Lionsgate's Packer -- Digital Distribution Not One Size Fits All

Exec notes increased flexibility, rise of VOD revenue in on-demand movie consumption 5/08/2013 10:21:00 AM Eastern

New York -- It's
been two years since Jim Packer joined Lionsgate as its president of worldwide
television and digital distribution from MGM, and in that time, he's seen a
number of changes in the on-demand landscape, namely that increased options
call for more flexibility.

"We don't think
one size fits all," Packer said of Lionsgate's distribution strategy for
the 40-50 movies it releases each year. He noted while some titles like the
Matthew McConaughey feature Mud lend themselves to early VOD, other like
the Twilight franchise's Breaking Dawn still draw record revenue
under the traditional model.

"You don't
necessarily have to tweak them, you have to find the right model," he said
in a keynote interview, moderated by
B&C
executive editor Dade Hayes, at B&C/Multichannel News'
On Demand Summit on Wednesday morning.

Packer noted there
is flexibility in distribution that didn't exist before; Lionsgate is now
planning for up to seven windows including traditional, early viewing and early
electronic sell-through. Likewise, one of the biggest changes he's seen is the
percentage of revenue derived from these alternative distribution windows.

"VOD is now
10-15% of box office, a few years ago it was 5%," he said. In fact 2012's The
Impossible
made $6 million through on demand viewing, one-third of box
office gross, a phenomenon that wasn't happening five years ago.

The windowing
strategy of course requires cooperation with theaters that pay to exhibit the
films. "We are very careful to be incredibly respectful of the
windows," Packer said. "You don't want to push them too hard."

But he noted that in
the case of Lionsgate's Margin Call and Arbitrage, the multiple
distribution strategy didn't cannibalize each other -- polling found that an
overwhelming majority of people who went to theater didn't know the films were
on VOD and vice versa.

"I look at that
as more of a challenge, that we hit on all cylinders and don't miss one,"
Packer said.

One way he's found to
draw new viewers to old library titles is giving them what he calls a
"digital car wash" which involves redoing the trailer in HD, making
it less than 60 seconds and optimizing its cover artwork for viewing on an
iPad. It then re-launches it like a brand new film, resulting in a "major
uptick in rental," Packer said.

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