January 21, 2021
In this week's edition:
• Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer
• WorldScreenings: FilmRise
In the news
Netflix added 8.5 million net subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020 to bring its total membership base to 203.65 million. The latest research from Ampere Analysis found that the streaming platform became the second-largest TV group in Europe by revenue last year. In Indonesia, the number of SVOD customers topped the 7 million mark, per new Media Partners Asia data. Meanwhile, pay-TV revenues across the Middle East and North Africa continue to decline, according to Digital TV Research. In market news, Reed MIDEM revealed that more than 100 exhibitors from 30 countries have confirmed commitments to book exhibition space at MIPCOM 2021 this October in Cannes. Registration is now open for the TV Kids Festival, running from February 2 to 5.
Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer
By Anna Carugati
Since the 1980s, advances in technology and ensuing changes in viewing behavior have upended the media business time and time again. Jon Feltheimer has led more than one company through these upheavals, first at New World Entertainment, then at Sony Pictures Entertainment, and since 2000 as CEO of Lionsgate. Feltheimer has steered his teams through several disruptive evolutions, transforming them from problems into potential, if not lucrative, revenue sources. Feltheimer talks to World Screen Weekly about managing businesses and people through the uncertainty created by COVID-19, continuing to find new revenue-generating opportunities and how the industry may change post-pandemic.
WS: How have you been managing Lionsgate’s various businesses since the coronavirus outbreak, especially with so much uncertainty?
FELTHEIMER: Because we have a tightly-knit and closely integrated company, my first priority was to keep morale and enthusiasm high while also keeping our structure in place.
I started by communicating even more than usual. Since the pandemic began, I’ve sent letters once or twice a week to our Lionsgate family as well as to our Board of Directors. I’ve continued by WebEx the meetings I held every Friday in our screening room with 60 or 70 employees in which everyone asks me questions and tells me what they’re doing. We sent surveys to our employees to learn what they were thinking and find out how we could best support their needs in the at-home environment.
We made sure that everyone was able to work efficiently and productively. Our IT department has done an amazing job giving people the ability to work from home. We also temporarily shifted some employees to areas of the company that were busier than others. Because we’ve been able to keep everyone working productively, we haven’t laid anyone off, haven’t had to cut people’s salaries and all of our executives received bonuses. We let people know we care about them, want to keep them working, and also want them to find new ways to work. We’ve challenged them to come up with new business models, and they’ve really taken that mandate to heart.
We’ve orchestrated all of this change very carefully. At the outset, we formed a Crisis Leadership Group that meets three or four times a week with leaders from every area of the Company, which I chair. We also formed a COVID Production Group that meets every Monday to develop new production protocols and figure out the best and safest ways to resume film and television production.
You could say that we’ve taken a “business as usual” approach to a “business as totally different” situation, and it has paid off. Our business has performed well, our financial results have been strong and we’ve pivoted where we’ve needed to pivot, and a big part of that success has been our emphasis on communication.
This interview continues here.
In a relatively short period of time, FilmRise has grown to become one the world’s largest independent providers of content to AVOD streaming platforms. It has done so, in large part, by using its proprietary data analytics algorithms to identify content that has very high demand from viewers, which, in many cases, is either under the radar or significantly underestimated by the industry. A recent example is FilmRise’s acquisition of The Rifleman, a black-and-white TV series that is more than 60 years old. Analytics identified this series as having extremely high viewer demand, and FilmRise’s AVOD release of the show has verified its algorithms, as it is now one of the most popular programs in the AVOD space. Danny Fisher, the CEO of FilmRise, tells World Screen’s Kristin Brzoznowski more about the company’s unique data analytics algorithms in this video interview.
FilmRise owns and operates the world’s largest independently owned free ad-supported streaming network. The service generates 150 million monthly ad impressions on its content of over 30,000 movies and TV titles. Twelve of FilmRise’s apps are the world’s largest free AVOD services in their genres, including FilmRise True Crime, FilmRise Western and FilmRise Horror. There have been 31 million downloads of FilmRise apps.
This article continues here.