Lionsgate Confirms It Would Launch Tyler Perry Network

Tyler Perry
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CEO Jon Feltheimer details how it would play out and calls Tyler a “rare piece of talent that can bring an audience anywhere.”

TORONTO -- Lionsgate is looking to follow Oprah Winfrey and launch a new cable TV network anchored by Tyler Perry.

“Tyler is one of those rare resources that one could launch a channel with. We have a lot of options if we choose to go down that path,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told financial analysts Wednesday after posting a surprise first quarter profit on Tuesday.

The Lionsgate topper refused to be drawn on details following a report Tuesday in the New York Times about a planned cable TV channel Tyler TV.

But Feltheimer praised Perry as a “rare piece of talent that can bring an audience anywhere.”

On how a Tyler Perry cable venture might be rolled out, he said Lionsgate could buy and rebrand a not-fully distributed channel, or pursue a “nesting strategy” with a channel it already has, including TV Guide.

Lionsgate has a first look deal with Perry and ten of his films that the mini-major has released since 2005 have grossed around $520 million at the North American box office.

Perry’s films, stage plays and DVDs have also sold more than 40 million DVD and digital units.

Lionsgate's Debmar-Mercury distributes Perry’s two TV shows, Tyler Perry's House of Payne and its spinoff Meet The Browns.

Feltheimer was also coy Wednesday about another reported Lionsgate deal, a multi-year content deal between Lionsgate UK and Netflix in the British market.

“We are prepared to say that we will end up with a state of the art, major studio-level pay TV deal in that territory, capable of taking Lionsgate UK to the next level of performance, and contributing millions of dollars a year in profits for Lionsgate,” he told analysts.

Feltheimer was more forthcoming on Lionsgate’s plans to launch a premium VOD offer of the Taylor Lautner film Abduction, priced at $6.99, ahead of its DVD release.

The mini-major, which is handling the VOD and Blu-ray release of Kevin Smith’s Red State, said it will make the self-distributed film available on a premium VOD window ahead of its theatrical release , priced at $9.99.

“We can customize our offerings to fit audiences,” Feltheimer said.