Lionsgate's Roar

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Here's a shocker: Programming is expensive, and paying for it is an immense challenge as competing channels and new digital platforms vie for eyeballs. So said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer during a CTAM Summit general session Mon. But monetizing digital growth can help. Take AMC's “Mad Men,” which costs nearly $5mln an ep to make. Sure, it's supported by a very sizable license fee from AMC, he explained, but revenues from VOD platforms like iTunes and a syndication deal with Netflix are extremely important to its financing. In fact, airing “Man Men” eps on Netflix drove viewers back to the show's live airing on AMC, which reported a 15% ratings increase last season. Here's why: The “serialized format of 'Mad Men'” appeals to businesses like Netflix looking to capitalize on “binge viewers,” or those whom digest several episodes at a time in one sitting. Feltheimer said the industry should focus on 3 things to ensure monetization of digital video: a better user interface, dynamic ad insertion and the growth of electronic sell-through. He also stressed the importance of the 2nd screen experience, particularly when it comes to appealing to younger generations. “The 2nd screen is our future. They may be 2nd screens to us but they're 1st screens to our kids,” he said, adding that once customers leave the ecosystem, it's very difficult to get them back. With Lionsgate's tech partners on track to sell 600mln smartphones this year, “the point is, as we move toward smaller and smaller screens of the future, our ideas need to get bigger and bigger.” Feltheimer believes Lionsgate could be “a potential marketing partner for cable.” The company recently helped ABC to market the launch of “Nashville,” which scored 9mln views for its Oct 10 premiere, making it the biggest launch for the network in a year. When the broadcaster made the request, Feltheimer said his 1st reaction was, “'isn't that your job?' Then I realized that was the old days… We must accept that already tough jobs just got tougher,” in part because consumers have more options than ever before. “These days an educated consumer may not be our best friend,” he said. On the challenges on distribution, he noted that Time Warner Cable's recent RSN launch in L.A., which occurred sans carriage deals, is proof that “it's hard to find a whole lot of space for new channels.” Distributors have “lately taken the position that we don't need more channels,” he said. But in his view, “today's playing field is wide open.”

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