×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content for the company, is energized by the prospects for what he calls the “platinum era” of television.

“The new streamers coming into the market are obviously bringing a lot of money and changing the business dynamics, but from a pure selling perspective, and getting new content out…it’s really unbelievably exciting,” said Beggs, speaking Friday at the MIA market in Rome.

Beggs entered the TV biz at a time when four broadcast networks dominated primetime viewing. In the years since the industry has undergone seismic shifts, first with the rise of cable television and then the emergence of global streaming services. With a host of new streaming players preparing to enter the market, including Disney Plus, Apple TV+, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Beggs said the increased competition had a tremendous upside for Lionsgate’s bottom line. “The business deal gets better,” he said.

But the range of potential buyers across a host of different platforms is also a boon for creators. “From a creative perspective, you’re putting a really good show on the right place where it will thrive,” he said. “In a four-network universe, the show you might wind up making is maybe not the show you pitched….These days you can really arrive at the show you want to make.”

One of the biggest creative benefits has been for young and diverse showrunners who are getting opportunities without being groomed in the traditional TV ecosystem, such as Zander Lehmann, creator of Hulu’s brother-sister relationship series “Casual,” and Justin Simien, who developed his feature film “Dear White People” into a hit Netflix series. “That’s just two people in our little Lionsgate universe,” said Beggs. “That’s being replicated all around. So I think the opportunities are greater than they’ve ever been for new voices.”

Beggs conceded the threats posed by platforms with globe-straddling ambitions, which could potentially “become closed ecosystems in which they’re only buying internally, and independent suppliers of any size are shut out of the process. I think ultimately, that’s bad for quality, because you never know where a hit is coming from.”

However, he also said he was a “glass half-full person” who was more focused on the tremendous upside that increased competition brings. “With a bevy of new buyers, most are buying the best stuff, wherever it’s sourced.”

Lionsgate’s roster in recent years reflects the company’s ability to make the most of those opportunities on both traditional and emerging platforms, including ground-breaking series like “Mad Men” (AMC), “Weeds” (Showtime), and “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix). Its upcoming slate includes the comedy “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” (Apple TV+), from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” creators Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day; the musical fantasy dramedy “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC); and the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life” (HBO Max), starring and executive produced by Anna Kendrick.

It’s no coincidence that new streaming players like Apple TV+ and HBO Max are part of the company’s portfolio. “As a scrappy, challenger studio…we always thought new buyers are a place where we can really compete. Because legacy buyers have a lot of others business that’s more profitable, and these things become a little bit of a headache for them, instead of an opportunity,” said Beggs, recalling how the deals Lionsgate inked with Showtime and Netflix were seen as risky propositions at the time, but are now considered among the company’s smartest gambits. When new players enter the market, “we’ve tried to be in there first,” he said. “In general, those relationships have paid off.”

Beggs reflected on the dramatic changes he’s witnessed over the course of his career. Long before streaming services signaled the most recent death knell for linear TV, he recalled how broadcast television was under threat from cable when he was starting out at Lionsgate. As the networks floundered in the early aughts, cable was on the upswing. Now streaming services are “taking everybody’s lunch,” he said. But the fundamental key to success remains the ability to adapt with the times.

“Will it all be as profitable as it was before? Probably not. The pie is being spread around in a different way,” he said. “But when networks are in need, as a seller, is when you as a studio should be at your best. Because if there’s a need, maybe you can fill that need. Our job as producers, all of us, is to find a solution for that.”

He continued: “I think they’re all going to be fine, but the business is going to shift, and you have to shift with it.”

More TV

  • Imelda Staunton'Downton Abbey' photocall, Rome Film

    'The Crown' Has Not Cast Imelda Staunton for Seasons 5 and 6, Netflix Says

    Netflix is shooting down reports that Imelda Staunton is joining “The Crown.” “We are currently filming season 4 of ‘The Crown’ but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. Staunton, known to many as the despicable Dolores Umbridge in [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    Baby Yoda Merchandise to Debut Ahead of Holiday Shopping Season

    Purchase Baby Yoda toys, you will. Fans of the breakout character from the Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian” have been surprised that there was no merchandise pegged to the character available upon the launch of the show, given that the Christmas shopping season is rapidly approaching. But according to an individual with knowledge of the [...]

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

  • Oprah Winfrey during a tribute to

    TV News Roundup: OWN Orders Celebrity Relationship Series '#LoveGoals'

    In today’s TV news roundup, OWN orders a new unscripted relationship series and Disney Channel orders new seasons of “The Owl House” and “Sydney to the Max.”  DATES ABC will live broadcast the “2020 NCAA Gymnastics Championship Final” on April 18. The semi finals will air the day before at 1 and 6 p.m. ET. [...]

  • Sissy book cover

    Showtime to Develop Series Based on Jacob Tobia Memoir 'Sissy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Showtime is developing a half-hour dramedy based on Jacob Tobia’s memoir, Variety has learned exclusively. Tobia is a non-binary LGBTQ rights activist, actor, producer, and author. Their memoir, “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,” was published earlier this year by Putnam Books at Penguin Random House. The series, currently titled “Sissy,” would follow Tobi Gibran, a non-binary college [...]

  • Invisible Stories from HBO Asia

    Singapore Festival: HBO Asia Tells ‘Invisible Stories’

    HBO Asia has expanded its burgeoning production slate with six-episode half-hour series “Invisible Stories.” The first two episodes of the show, “Lian” and “Chuan,” play at the Singapore International Film Festival on Nov. 28. The series is by writer and director Ler Jiyuan, who previously directed part of HBO Asia Original series “Grisse.” “Like 80% [...]

  • Jane Galloway Heitz

    'Glee' Actress Jane Galloway Heitz Dies at 78

    Jane Galloway Heitz, known for playing the character of Lillian Adler on “Glee,” has died, according to an obituary posted in the Chicago Tribune. She was 78. The actress only appeared in person twice on the Fox show, once in the pilot and on another occasion in 2015, as her character’s image appeared in a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content