Banff: Lionsgate Exec Sandra Stern Talks Netflix's Volume Strategy: "They Want to Be Costco"

Sandra Stern-Publicity-H 2019

The studio's TV group president said Netflix's response to subscriber churn from bingeing of popular series is volume.

Sandra Stern, president of the Lionsgate Television Group, on Monday said Netflix deals with binge-watching of its popular shows by being a volume content programmer.

"As somebody at Netflix said to me, they want to be Costco. They want to be a marketplace where if you want batteries, fine wine, you can get it all," Stern told a panel at the Banff World Media Festival.

She pointed to audience statistics for Orange is the New Black, a Lionsgate TV show on Netflix that sees 50 percent of the series' fans binge watch a new season of the popular series on the first weekend.

Ditto for Game of Thrones, which left HBO with higher subscriber churn when that popular series ended a seasonal run. "Netflix's response is massive amounts of content, so there's something to watch," Stern added. 

HBO, by contrast, curates its content offerings to subscribers to keep them interested in the premium cable channel. "HBO's genius has been curation. They don't have a ton of content, but presumably they have curated content that is a quality that you are going to watch," Stern said. 

During a Banff panel on industry consolidation in Hollywood in answer to escalating streaming wars, the question of whether regional and indie streaming models can remain sustainable when Disney, WarnerMedia and Apple launch their subscription VOD services came up.

Superna Kalle, executive vp of international digital networks at Starz Media, a division of Lionsgate, said she expected Hollywood's latest Netflix-killers to go global within two years. "For someone who runs a global streaming service, that's a good thing. I'm not afraid of competition. All boats rise. Netflix has done a fantastic job of teaching people to view content on their phone, their iPads and smart TVs," Kalle argued.

Starz currently has around 25 million subscribers, with 4 million by way of the Starz streamer in the U.S. and another 3 million internationally.

The Banff World Media Festival, continues through Wednesday.