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Ahead of his keynote address at Hong Kong’s FilMart this week, Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution, shares his plans for Starz international expansion. And he recounts his experience of watching Netflix change up through the gears.
Back in 2012, when Lionsgate was still casting “Orange is the New Black,” Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president worldwide TV and digital distribution, described the show’s buyer Netflix as “a great new digital partner.” Seven years later, Netflix is the platform everyone wants to work for and everyone else wants to beat.
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“Netflix is no longer new, but they remain a trusted partner. They have such a huge appetite. And they are very easy to do business with,” said Packer. “But they have disrupted a lot of business models.”
“I did licensing deals with them when I was at MGM. They initially said we just want to buy your back catalog. Stuff that you can’t really sell. It was an interesting way to go around Hollywood. They license a lot of content. Then they immediately started morphing and realized what they did need. They bought newer movies, then new TV shows, such as ‘OITNB,’ which was one of their first new productions. They adapted as they learned how people used their product.”
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Packer said the companies that have entered the business in recent years have helped accelerate the pace of change. “At Disney, losing movies to basic cable was a process that took several years. Now change happens in one season, or with one deal.” Packer said he is watching carefully as Netflix increases its focus on local markets.
He is also watching carefully for what Disney does with its anticipated launch of streaming platform Disney Plus. He predicted that Disney too will learn and adapt. “I’m hearing that they are creating more of their...
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