February 23, 2024

Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs says a transformed marketplace has taken shape in the wake of last year’s dual strikes and waves of cost-cutting affecting many TV players.

“They’re ordering fewer shows, and there’s a lot of focus on the budget levels of those shows and a little more financial discipline compared to the bake-off streaming wars that we saw leading up to the Covid era,” Beggs said during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “But there’s still a big demand for shows. They need originals. Originals build subs, drive advertising. But the bar is a little higher. They need them to be packaged. They need them to be noisy.”

Beggs put in a plug for Lionsgate’s strategy, saying the shift on the buy-side “really speaks to our strengths of putting together great packages and also delivering on various budget levels and shooting in tax-friendly states and tax-friendly countries and other approaches we’ve pioneered.” The ultimate goal, he said, is “to try to accomplish what everyone needs, which is a premium show at a more reasonable price.”

The exec wrapped up his comments with an aphorism that seemed well-worn but also very apt given the pace of change across the industry. “Selling begins with ‘no,’” Beggs said. “We’ve heard ‘no’ a lot, and we persevere and we find ways to get to ‘yes.’”

Beggs spoke not long after CEO Jon Feltheimer had addressed the TV efforts in scripted remarks at the start of the earnings call. He emphasized the company’s efforts to diversify its TV business and evolve from its roots as the house of Mad Men and Orange is the New Black.

A decade ago, Feltheimer said, “nearly all of our television profits came from our core premium scripted business. Today, our contributions are spread across scripted, unscripted, talent management, syndication and international productions, enabling us to navigate downturns in any one part of the business and one of the reasons we’re continuing to track toward record Television Group segment profit this year despite the strike and several series cancellations.”

While Lionsgate’s quarterly profit beat Wall Street estimates, revenue sagged as the impact from the strikes hammered the Television Production division.

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