Analyst Lauds Lionsgate's China Streaming Deal With Alibaba


Wunderlich Securities' Matthew Harrigan argues theatrical splits one-third of those in North America boost the upside from releasing titles like "Divergent" and "Mad Men" via the Chinese e-commerce giant.

TORONTO - Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan has lauded Lionsgate's China streaming deal with the Asian e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Harrigan in an investors note Tuesday said the mini-studio would see titles like Divergent and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and TV shows such as Mad Men, Weeds and The Royals distributed on set-top boxes belonging to "a tremendously powerful and attractive Chinese partner."

The mainland China streaming service is set to launch in August.

The analyst noted that only three years ago Lionsgate received hardly any digital sales from China and India, underlining the value of a recent push into a major BRIC market.

Lionsgate last year teamed with Jiaflix Enterprises to extend its digital pipeline into China through the Chinese streaming website, the online division of China Movie Channel and CCTV6.

"Theatrical splits as low as one-third the North American level further increase the attractiveness of streaming deals in China," Harrigan added in his post-deal analysis.

Wunderlich Securities maintains a buy rating on Lionsgate, with a price target of $37.00.

Elsewhere, analyst James Marsh at Piper Jaffray & Co. in his own investors note Tuesday said the Alibaba content output deal requires limited investment from Lionsgate, indicated Chinese media groups "seemingly prefer" to work with mini-majors like Lionsgate, rather than major Hollywood studios, and heralded deeper ties down the road between the two partners.


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