Lionsgate Reaps Big Money From Digital Distribution of Shows Like ‘Weeds’

In an otherwise lackluster quarter, digital and VOD revenue jumped

Lionsgate’s most recent quarter was hardly cause for celebration — revenue fell 23 percent at the company — but its digital and video-on-demand revenue was certainly impressive.

Digital and on demand revenue jumped 80 percent to $62.4 million during its third fiscal quarter. Theatrical only brought in $8.4 million during the period.

Licensing deals for the studio’s television programming, particularly the licensing of the first five seasons of “Weeds” to digital platforms, kept the money flowing over the three-month period. Vancouver-based Lionsgate has liicensing deals with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

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"We've created a whole new revenue stream for serialized shows," Lionsgate Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Office Jon Feltheimer told analysts on Friday.

Overall revenue dropped to $323 million during a period in which the studio released no new films. The was a decrease of nearly $100 million from the same quarter last year. Lionsgate also announced losses of $1.7 million.

“The Hunger Games,” its hotly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel cannot come soon enough for the studio. Box office prognosticators are predicting big things for the movie, but in the short term Lionsgate can comfort itself with having adroitly manipulated emerging home entertainment platforms.

Also read: Lionsgate Q3 Revenue Plummets, Losses Level Off With Empty Film Slate

In recent quarters, digital revenue and video-on-demand have actually been more consistent performers than theatrical releases. Revenue from Lionsgate’s digital business increased 123 percent in the previous quarter to a record $65 million. Theatrical revenue was $22.3 million during the period, with “Abduction” and “Conan” both failing to hit it big. 

In October, Lionsgate released “Margin Call” on video-on-demand at the same time the well-reviewed Wall Street drama debuted in theaters. The Roadside Attractions movie has grossed over $5 million at the domestic box office — a figure the studio said it expected to match on demand.

It reportedly plans a similar release strategy with its recent Sundance acquisition “Arbitrage,” a hedge fund drama starring Richard Gere.