Seeking to capitalize on the growing Asian consumer market, Lionsgate and media mogul Haim Saban’s investment fund, Saban Capital Group, announced Monday that they had formed a joint venture to finance the expansion of a pay television company in Asia that specializes in horror films.
Tigergate was established by Lionsgate in 2008 and founded by former Sony executive William Pfeiffer and Lionsgate executive Paul Presburger.
It currently comprises the horror channel THRILL and the action channel KIX. The channels were launched in Indonesia in August 2009, and are poised to expand to Hong Kong and Singapore this month.
The new venture, which will fund the expanded company for between $30 to $50 million, will seek to take advantage of the growing appetite in Asia for pay television.
The content on the first two channels will be both Asian and Hollywood-produced.
"When you look at US media – TV, newspapers, radio – there’s not a lot of growth," said Adam Chesnoff, president of Saban Capital Group. "Where you do see growth is in online and mobile. As far as the TV business is concerned, we see Asia as exciting, with great growth potential."
The Asian pay TV and broadband distribution business is expected to rise to $14 billion in 2010, up from $12.9 billion in 2009.
In a news release, Lionsgate Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer said, "We are doing what we do best — focusing on large niches that play to our strengths. We are very excited to bring the Lionsgate brand to Asia."
Lionsgate has been under siege by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, and recently dropped out of bidding for either Miramax or MGM, which it had previously sought to acquire.
The venture, based in Hong Koing, will continue to be run by Tiger Gate Chief Executive Officer William Pfeiffer and Lionsgate International executive Paul Presburger.
Pfeiffer, a 23-year international media veteran, headed Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Asian operations for nearly 10 years, bringing the media conglomerate into China, India and other Asian markets before founding and launching Celestial Pictures, a Hong Kong-based operator of Asian motion picture and television distribution, branded entertainment channels, television content and new media.
Pfeiffer ran Celestial Pictures for seven years before leaving to launch the Tiger Gate venture. He also helped launch Sony Entertainment Television in India as well as AXN, Animax, Celestial Movies and numerous other channels in Asia.