Lionsgate to Make More TV Shows With Expanding SVOD Players

Lionsgate Reunites With Founder For TV Venture

Lionsgate and Thunderbird will jointly manage the venture, designed to share production and distribution costs on all scripted projects picked up to series. "Doing a deal like this enables us to stretch and diversify," says Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer (pictured).

The mini-studio launching or developing new series with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon is just the "tip of the iceberg," topper Jon Feltheimer told analysts Friday.

TORONTO – With Netflix set to debut Lionsgate TV’s Orange Is the New Black in July, the mini-major is already talking about a second season for the drama from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan.

“This will be another strong brand for Lionsgate, and we have significant confidence in a second-season pickup,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts Friday morning during a conference call.

The optimism around the prison-set comedy -- set to be released in all territories where Netflix is available, ahead of possible reverse windowing with TV syndication to follow -- also underlines Lionsgate’s drive toward expanding SVOD players as new windows.

That includes Hulu, where Lionsgate has parked a new comedy in development after selling the digital platform a number of second-run series and movies.

Ten scripts have been written for the unnamed sitcom, with a full season order anticipated in fall 2013.

And Lionsgate is developing an animated comedy with Amazon from Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal.

“This is just the tip of iceberg. We believe that creating content for the next wave of premiere content distributors will become an increasingly important part of our television business going forward,” Feltheimer said.

Internationally, Lionsgate is stepping up sales to emerging online video players, especially in China.

Feltheimer added Netflix and Amazon will continue to expand and new players will emerge in varied world territories.

“These players are giving us an advantages in places where we had a significant disadvantage, as in the U.K. where we didn’t have a pay TV deal and now have one that puts us at parity with all of the major studios,” Feltheimer insisted.

Deal-wise, the SVOD series deals follow the model of premium TV agreements, where a license fee is pay by the SVOD end user and Lionsgate retains all domestic and international rights.