By absorbing Lionsgate and Starz into MGM+, which is available and promoted worldwide to hundreds of millions of Amazon subscribers, MGM+ could emerge as a leading streaming service.
Besides Amazon, rumors swirled on news that Paramount was considering purchasing Starz after recently integrating Showtime into its flagship Paramount+ earlier this year.
- Amazon is the Leading Frontrunner to Acquire Lionsgate After Purchasing MGM and Starz Bundling Partnership
- Worldwide Film & Television Distribution Intelligence
- Paramount Global Emerges as a Another Frontrunner for Lionsgate Despite Storied Difficulties
- FilmTake Away: Without Starz Included, Amazon and Paramount Are Unlikely Lionsgate Suitors
Amazon is the Leading Frontrunner to Acquire Lionsgate After Purchasing MGM and Starz Bundling Partnership
Lionsgate’s precarious position makes it an ideal target for Amazon, fresh off its purchase of MGM and recent partnership that bundles MGM+ and Starz via Amazon Video under a long-term agreement covering the U.S. market.
Amazon certainly has the wherewithal and, after acquiring MGM, seemingly the capability to integrate Lionsgate and Starz with Amazon’s media assets. Amazon could keep the brands separate altogether, bundle them, or integrate all services under one banner, MGM+.
As recently reported, Starz now bundles its streaming service with Amazon’s MGM+ (formerly Epix) on Prime Video in the United States. The two services are available for $11.99, a 20% savings over subscribing separately.
In 2017, MGM purchased Epix from Viacom and Lionsgate for $1.03 billion, which together owned 81%. MGM had already owned 18% of Epix when Lionsgate moved to sell its 31.2% after purchasing Starz for $4.4 billion.
However, the value proposition of MGM+ is not in Epix but in the film libraries of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists. Adding Lionsgate and Starz to MGM+, which is available and promoted worldwide to hundreds of millions of Amazon subscribers, MGM+ could emerge as a competitor to leading streaming services.
Epix was valued at $1.27 billion at the time of the purchase, and the premium television network was available in 45 million U.S. homes.
On the same day Amazon announced its $8.45 billion purchase of MGM, Lionsgate announced that StarzPlay would now be Lionsgate+ in 35 territories outside the United States.
As of the end of last year, Lionsgate boasts around 38 million subscribers, well ahead of Peacock with just 22 million subs. Starz has 27 million subscribers, and rebranded Lionsgate+ has nearly 15 million.
Combined, Lionsgate is within striking distance of Apple (40 million subs), Hulu (48 million), and Paramount+ (60 million). Paramount+ and Lionsgate combined would have more subscribers than HBO Max (83 million) but far removed from the big three—Disney+ (158 million), Amazon (200 million), and the global leader Netflix with 233 million.
Worldwide Film & Television Distribution Intelligence
Get unparalleled access to market intelligence reports that draw on financial data and insights from dozens of content distribution deals worldwide between key industry participants, including — Distributors, Producers, Broadcasters, MPVDs, Pay Television Providers, and Streaming Exhibitors.
Film and Series distribution rates and terms deriving from dozens of agreements for rights to transmit films and episodic television via PayTV and SVOD.
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Licensing Terms & Included Programs:
Pay-1 & SVOD Rate Cards for Motion Pictures and Series Exhibited Worldwide in Multiple Availability Windows
- Motion Pictures: Pay-1, First Run, Second Window Features, Recent Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Current and Premium Made-For-TV Films and Direct-To-Video Films, covering many license periods over the last decade
- Episodic TV: Current, Premium, Premium Catalog (1HR & 1/2HR), Catalog Series (1HR & 1/2HR), and Catalog Miniseries + Case Studies on Current Mega Hit, Catalog Mega Hit, and Premium Catalog, covering many licensing terms from 2012-2024
- Because most-favored-nation rates operate in practice, the rates and terms apply to a diverse range of content and distributors worldwide in multiple availability windows.
Paramount Global Emerges as a Another Frontrunner for Lionsgate Despite Storied Difficulties
Another frontrunner is Paramount Global, which as ViacomCBS, was reportedly a suitor even before the “anonymous” claims in 2019 that it had offered $5 billion to purchase Starz. However, Parmount’s financial security is much less certain than Amazon’s.
Earlier this year, rumors swirled on news that Paramount Global was considering purchasing Starz after the parent company recently integrated Showtime into its flagship Paramount+ as a bundle. Showtime will be added to Paramount+ across both streaming and linear services stateside for an additional cost.
The dark horse to acquire Lionsgate, Starz, or both is Sony Pictures which has avoided the costly direct-to-consumer streaming wars, but Japan seems content with keeping the studio as it is.
FilmTake Away: Without Starz Included, Amazon and Paramount Are Unlikely Lionsgate Suitors
As Lionsgate continues its attempt to financially engineer success by selling Starz, Lionsgate itself, or both companies altogether, Amazon is an ideal suitor.
Crucially, however, it’s hard to imagine Amazon, Paramount, or any studio purchasing Lionsgate without Starz included.
With the most significant content distributors reversing their plans to make content exclusive on their in-house platforms and Netflix originals falling flat, Netflix will again lead the way in third-party licensing and once again become Hollywood’s aggregator.
Unstoppable declines in linear television subscribers coupled with challenges in achieving profits in freshly minted streaming services have led most media companies on the road to consolidation. Over the next 12 months, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, and NBCUniversal will likely be impacted by consolidation.
The world of streaming filmed entertainment is experiencing a significant transformation. This evolution is marked by strategic transitions in content licensing, changes in audience metrics, and the emergence of new alliances among industry heavyweights such as Netflix, Disney, and Warner Bros.
The shift away from originals at Netflix is welcome news for distributors that have grown wary of content exclusivity and are again licensing films and shows to their streaming competitors, especially Netflix, which pays top dollar.