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Edited Transcript of LGFa.N earnings conference call or presentation 4-Feb-21 10:00pm GMT

·36 min read

Q3 2021 Lions Gate Entertainment Corp Earnings Call SANTA MONICA Feb 9, 2021 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 10:00:00pm GMT TEXT version of Transcript ================================================================================ Corporate Participants ================================================================================ * Alison Hoffman Starz - President of Domestic Networks * James Milton Marsh Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Senior VP & Head of IR * James W. Barge Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CFO * Jeffrey A. Hirsch Starz - President & CEO * Jon Feltheimer Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director * Joseph Drake Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Chairman of Motion Picture Group * Kevin Beggs Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Chairman of Lionsgate Television Group * Superna Kalle Starz - EVP of International Digital Networks ================================================================================ Conference Call Participants ================================================================================ * Alan Steven Gould Loop Capital Markets LLC, Research Division - MD * Alexia Skouras Quadrani JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst * James Charles Goss Barrington Research Associates, Inc., Research Division - MD * Kutgun Maral RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Assistant VP and Lead US Cable & Satellite Analyst of US Telecommunications Services * Steven Lee Cahall Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst * Thomas L. Yeh Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Research Associate * Timothy Wilson Nollen Macquarie Research - Senior Media Analyst ================================================================================ Presentation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Lions Gate Entertainment 3Q '21 Earnings Call. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Head of Investor Relations, James Marsh. Please go ahead. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Milton Marsh, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Senior VP & Head of IR [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us for the Lionsgate Fiscal '21 Third Quarter Conference Call. We'll begin with opening remarks from our CEO, Jon Feltheimer; followed by remarks from our CFO, Jimmy Barge. After their remarks, we'll open the call for questions. Also joining us on the call today are Vice Chairman, Michael Burns; COO, Brian Goldsmith; Chairman of the TV Group, Kevin Beggs; and Chairman of the Motion Picture Group, Joe Drake. And from Starz, we have President and CEO, Jeff Hirsch; CFO, Scott MacDonald; President of Domestic Networks, Alison Hoffman; and EVP of International, Superna Kalle. The matters discussed on this call include forward-looking statements, including those regarding the performance of future fiscal years. Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially and adversely from those described in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. This includes the risk factors set forth in Lionsgate's most recent annual report on Form 10-K as amended and our most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly release the result of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect any future events or circumstances. With that, I'll turn it over to Jon. Jon? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you, James, and good afternoon, everyone. We're pleased to report a quarter with strong financials, robust subscriber growth at Starz and another outsized performance from our library as our model continues to show its resilience in the face of the pandemic. Let me take you through the quarter's highlights. Starz continued its strong growth, gaining 800,000 subscribers in the quarter as it increased international over-the-top subscribers by 26% and posted solid gains in domestic over-the-top subs. With 28 million global subscribers at quarter's end, we're well on our way to our goal of 50 million to 60 million global subscribers by 2025, the vast majority of which will be high-value streaming subs. Last week, Starz announced a new bundle agreement with Canal Plus that will immediately scale our footprint in France, anticipating a future in which we expect bundles to become an increasingly important part of our distribution strategy. Our production teams have been doing a great job of keeping our television and film pipelines operating at full capacity with safety protocols in place and minimal downtime. Amazingly, in spite of the challenges, we are currently shooting 19 scripted television series and another 20 unscripted shows around the world. Five feature films have returned to production. Three new film productions have started. And in the coming months, we'll begin shooting the Wonder sequel White Bird from Director Marc Forster; Shotgun Wedding starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel; Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret from superstar producer James L. Brooks; Borderlands teaming Kevin Hart and Cate Blanchett; and John Wick 4, of course, starring Keanu Reeves for release next year. Our television group continued its strong year with new series picked up at Starz, Apple+, ABC, FOX and HBO Max, while all 6 series launched last year have been renewed for second seasons with Love Life breaking out to become the top-performing original in HBO Max as we continue to demonstrate our ability to put shows on the air and keep them there. These strong content pipelines continue to feed a library that in the quarter achieved another record $765 million in high-margin revenue for the trailing 12 months. And we've accomplished all of this while continuing to strengthen our balance sheet, ending the quarter with more than $550 million in available cash, an untapped $1.5 billion revolver and leverage that has been reduced by more than a full turn in the past year to under 4x while continuing to fund the growth of all of our businesses without a capital raise and with our own free cash flow. To drill down on our performance in the quarter, I'd like to continue the narrative we began on the last call by laying out 3 of the broader themes that have contributed to our success. First, we continue to mobilize all of our resources behind the growth of Starz. From the acquisition 4 years ago through the international rollout that began in 2018, we've been converting and scaling Starz into a modern, data-driven global subscription leader that has become the first traditional service to have more over-the-top than linear subscribers, a critical digital inflection point. By the end of next quarter, we expect streaming revenue to surpass traditional for the first time as well. Domestically, our programming for a broad spectrum of women and traditionally underserved audiences is differentiating us from our competitors, driving subscriber acquisition and retention and setting new viewership records. New series P-Valley and Hightown and the docu series Seduced are resonating with our audiences. Power Book II: Ghost set viewership and acquisition records in its first season, becoming the highest-performing new series ever on Starz. With its initial season ending on a viewership high, we're bullish on the performance of future seasons as well as upcoming installments of the power franchise, Raising Kanan and Force. We've established ourselves as the go-to premium service for grown-up audiences. Our brand continues to set us apart in a crowded marketplace, and we have our biggest and most ambitious Starz slate coming in the year ahead. With a programming and marketing spend informed by the consumer data that we've harvested from our direct-to-consumer business, we just completed another quarter of high ARPU over-the-top domestic subscriber growth that drove solid revenue gains, while we continue to convert our Comcast linear subscribers into higher-value a la carte subs ahead of schedule. Internationally, we've expanded into 55 countries, including our STARZPLAY Arabia joint venture, with launches spanning 10 partners in 20 countries in the quarter. We also continue to bolster consumer data and engagement by rolling out our retail app in another 5 countries. Our partnerships with global streaming platforms and top local distributors alike are thriving. From Ghost to Gangs of London, Seduced to Spanish Princess, our best of global SVOD content strategy is resonating with consumers, helping to drive our second straight quarter of nearly 30% over-the-top subscriber growth. We're capitalizing on our early traction by building scale in existing territories while opportunistically expanding into new ones, most recently leveraging the fast start of our Indian platform, Lionsgate Play, into Indonesia. Second, we continue to accelerate the convergence of our studio and platform businesses to support this growth, whether lining up 20 Lionsgate Television premium series for Starz, using our library to drive Starz international growth or leveraging our properties and talent relationships across all of our businesses. This afternoon, we announced that our collaboration with 3 Arts on The Serpent Queen, the story of French Royal Catherine de Medici, from Bohemian Rhapsody's Justin Haythe, executive produced by Hunger Games franchise director Francis Lawrence and 3 Arts Erwin Stoff, has been greenlit at Starz. It's the latest example of our ability to marshal all of the resources within our Lionsgate family to support the growth of Starz. As everyone scrambles to vertically integrate their legacy businesses behind the growth of new streaming platforms, our ability to continue converging our studio, platform and talent businesses is critical. Third, we continue to deepen our content pipelines while taking advantage of our distribution optionality. Our strong performance in fiscal '21 allows us to greatly increase our content and marketing investment in fiscal '22 to be funded with our own cash flow. We're responding to the record imbalance between content supply and demand in the marketplace by expanding our slate at Starz, ramping up our scripted series production at Lionsgate Television and readying a robust film slate that anticipates theaters coming back next year while addressing huge demand for content across all platforms. Our success in generating strong returns from early PVOD, multi-platform and hybrid models for the films Fatale, Antebellum, Run, I Can Only Imagine and The Secret speaks to our ability to monetize current films while at the same time working with our theatrical exhibition partners to plan for the future. One full year into the pandemic, our businesses are doing well, adapting to the changes, overcoming the headwinds and delivering a strong financial performance while creating evergreen value for the future. We owe much of the success to the amazing resilience of our employees and our creative talent family who have doubled down on their collaborative team spirit, innovated new ways of working and communicating and demonstrated strengths and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Now I'd like to turn things over to Jimmy. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James W. Barge, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CFO [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks, Jon, and good afternoon, everyone. I'll briefly discuss our fiscal third quarter financial results and provide some color on our outlook. The fiscal third quarter adjusted OIBDA was $134 million, up 8% over last year and driven by strong performance in television, with total revenue coming in at $836 million. Reported fully diluted earnings per share was a loss of $0.06. And fully diluted adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.21 per share. Adjusted free cash flow for the quarter was $111 million. Now let me briefly discuss the fiscal third quarter performance of the underlying segments compared to the prior year quarter. You can follow along in our trending schedules that have been posted to our website and show greater detail around our global media network subscribers. Media Networks quarterly revenue was $406 million and segment profit came in at $82 million, driven largely by domestic OTT subscriber growth as well as the strong performance of Starz International as we continue to roll out in new markets and platforms. Globally, including STARZPLAY Arabia, the company grew OTT subscribers 900,000 sequentially or 7%, as you can see in our trending schedules. Domestically, OTT subscribers increased 3% sequentially, while international OTT subscribers grew 26%. Total global media networks OTT subscribers reached 14.6 million, while MVPD subscribers stayed constant at 13.4 million for a total of 28 million subscribers. We now expect our previous guidance on global media network OTT subscribers to exceed the top end of the 13 million to 15 million subscriber range by the end of the current fiscal year, approaching 50% plus growth year-over-year. Now turning to our Motion Picture Group. Revenue declined on limited theatrical releases to $250 million, while segment profit of $50 million was in line with the prior year despite a tough comp against the prior year quarter, which included ancillary sales of John Wick. And finally, we had strong performance in television, where revenue for the quarter came in at $228 million, and segment profit increased to $30 million, driven by additional Mad Men licensing and episodic deliveries. On the balance sheet, we continue to reduce leverage, ending the quarter at 3.6x trailing adjusted OIBDA or just under 3x excluding our investment in STARZPLAY International. We continue to retain significant liquidity with $551 million of cash on hand and a $1.5 billion undrawn revolver. We remain committed to strengthening our balance sheet and paying down debt. Now I'd like to turn the call over to James for Q&A. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Milton Marsh, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Senior VP & Head of IR [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Great. Thanks, Jimmy. Carolyn, can we open it up for Q&A? ================================================================================ Questions and Answers -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [1] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Steve Cahall from Wells Fargo. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Steven Lee Cahall, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst [2] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Maybe Jimmy, to start off, I was wondering, with just about a month left in the fiscal year, could you maybe give us what your outlook is for fiscal '21? And then, Jon and Jimmy, fiscal '22 is probably going to look a lot different. So could you give us any sense of how we think about both the cadence for fiscal '22 but maybe also just as folks are maybe reallocating some budget from in-home entertainment to out-of-home entertainment, you've got a bit more cost coming online, how you think about the margins in a year like fiscal '22. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James W. Barge, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CFO [3] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure, Steve. Thanks for the question. Look, in terms of fiscal '21, as we said from the beginning of the year, that fiscal '21 was going to be more front-end weighted. So -- and as we look ahead to the segments, we continue to see Media Networks segment being flattish relative to the prior year for -- on a full year basis. And that's as we reinvest excess profits there to derisk the model and position us for future growth. And in Motion Picture Group, as we said before, I think over the remainder of the year, profits will continue to moderate sequentially, particularly with P&A spend on Chaos Walking as that increases in the fourth quarter. And then in TV, we remain on track for significant growth there. Profit is up 50% for the full year, as Jon has noted in earlier calls. So that kind of rounds out how we would finalize fiscal '20 or what we're seeing there -- '21. And in terms of fiscal '22, looking ahead, there, we expect the cadence to be more back-end loaded. So just the inverse of fiscal '21. So back-end loaded in fiscal '22. Look, we expect strong operational performance in '22. We're going to be in that with increased investment in content and marketing, as you've heard. With regards to the various businesses, looking at Starz, it will reflect the impact and the timing of our content and marketing spend. In Motion Picture Group, the P&A spend is going to be more front-end loaded here because of the -- a more front-end loaded first half theatrical release slate. And then likewise, more back-end loaded in terms of TV, in terms of episodic deliveries. I would say Weeds is available in the first quarter of this year, fiscal '22, that is. So we've got a strong fiscal '22, and it's back-end loaded. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director [4] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. I'd echo what Jimmy said. I think all of our core businesses won't look that different. I mean we're going to have a strong library year. We're going to continue to sell into a strong demand. Our TV business is strong. As I mentioned, we're -- we've got 39 shows going on right now. And we like the trajectory of our Starz business, both domestically and internationally. So I think it's going to be another strong year, as Jimmy said. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Steven Lee Cahall, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst [5] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That's a lot of great color. Maybe if I could ask a quick follow-up. You've done a great job of getting leverage down into the 3s. Should we expect that to tick up a little bit in fiscal '22? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James W. Barge, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CFO [6] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure, Steve. Look, you're right. We're down 1.5 turns in the first 9 months of this year. So 3.6 is a relatively low point at the moment, in a favorable way. What I would expect as we go into '22 with the content spend and marketing spend rolling through, you would expect some increase in margins there to some peak kind of mid -- early to midyear leverage ratios but returning back around 4x leverage by the end of fiscal '22. So that's a good place to be relative to our -- where we are in our investment cycle with content and marketing. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [7] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from the line of Tim Nollen with Macquarie Securities. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Timothy Wilson Nollen, Macquarie Research - Senior Media Analyst [8] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I wanted to ask a question about profitability on the OTT side, if there's any color you could give us. Seeing the subs outpacing the linear a quarter or 2 ago and now you're saying revenue outpacing the linear in the next quarter or 2, what are your thoughts on how the profitability profile of the Starz OTT service stand-alone looks like? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [9] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tim, it's Jeff. Thanks for the question. Now if you look back over the last couple of years as we were primarily a linear network, a bundled network with low ARPU subs, and we've converted, as you said, over 50% of our -- more of our OTT subs than linear subs, and that profitability continues to come up. You look at our ARPU in the last quarter, it was over $6. I think there's some noise in that number still based on our converting from bundle to a la carte on Comcast. But we expect long term to be somewhere between $5.75 and $6 on ARPU, so a much more profitable subscriber as we bring them onto the platform. And then if you look internationally, we still think that we'll end up where we said publicly, somewhere between $3 and $4 when we get out to 2025. And that's a little bit more of a steeper line as we accelerate the OTT growth in the international side. So overall, we're moving to where the consumer is, but we're also moving to a much more profitable customer. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Timothy Wilson Nollen, Macquarie Research - Senior Media Analyst [10] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. Cool. Jeff, could I ask maybe another one, probably also for you, too, Jeff, about the increasing competition we're seeing, obviously, in OTT? I believe you've done some work looking at your data and trying to figure out what content to make available at what times and how to mitigate churn. I wonder if you've got any comments on churn and your ability to sustain growth given how much more crowded the field continues to get. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [11] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's a great question. I think if you take a step back and when we look at the industry and how it's unfolding, this is probably the first quarter with the exception of Paramount Plus that's coming at the end of March, where all the players are kind of on the field right now. And as we've said before, that first big broad-based streaming services, the Netflix, the Disney+, the Hulus that are trying to service everybody in the home, I think that's where the real competition is going to be. And you're going to see people competing on ad spend, people competing on price and people competing on bundling. As we announced today, you saw a Canal Plus bundle in Europe. We think we'll see more of that as we go. But we're really positioned as a complementary service to all those big broadband services. And so we think with our programming strategy of being very focused on female audience and underserved audiences and building out that slate, as Jon said, it's our most robust slate yet, we think that we've got a really good programming strategy. We've got a great lineup. And I'm actually going to let Ali talk about the data and how we use that data to schedule and reduce churn to what we're seeing in an all-time low in the business right now. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alison Hoffman, Starz - President of Domestic Networks [12] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. I think just to comment on the slate. We've got returning franchises like Power. I think we've got 3 installments of Power coming next year. We've got Outlander coming next year. So in terms of driving the business, in terms of subscriber acquisition and in terms of retention, we've got sort of that nice flow of flowing viewers from one show into the next as well as sort of adding and building viewership and building the subscriber base as we go. We're always -- per -- Jeff noted about in terms of the data, we're really always driving to the lowest subscriber acquisition cost. And so that's really how we manage the business. We are managing the business to have a really good return on our marketing investment and a really strong return on our content investment as well. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Timothy Wilson Nollen, Macquarie Research - Senior Media Analyst [13] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Great. Could I maybe squeeze one more in, please, also on a similar topic? I know that with Starz internationally, you've got a lot of rights to content from the likes of Paramount and Hulu. I wonder if there's anything that we should think about might change given that we'll get some updates on Paramount Plus coming in the next couple of weeks or so, or indeed, anything related to Disney. Just if there's anything on your access to that international content that might change. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director [14] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'll have Superna answer that question. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Superna Kalle, Starz - EVP of International Digital Networks [15] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is Superna. Thanks for the question. So we have not been seeing a problem with securing fantastic content from producers nor certainly from our own studio, we have incredible content on our own slate that's very international focused and we think are going to drive a lot of subscribers. Just some examples, we're very excited about Serpent Queen, which was announced today, as well as Dangerous Liaisons, Becoming Elizabeth, and the Power franchise works incredibly well for us. But no, we've not been seeing a slowdown in content acquisitions either. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [16] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Our next question comes from the line of Alan Gould from Loop. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alan Steven Gould, Loop Capital Markets LLC, Research Division - MD [17] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm going to do sort of the flip side of Tim's question and address it to Kevin. Kevin, it seems the traditional TV is seeing probably changes at the most accelerated rate we've seen in terms of ratings and advertising. How does that -- how does everything play into your job as a producer of content for all of TV, traditional, streaming, et cetera? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kevin Beggs, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Chairman of Lionsgate Television Group [18] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thank you. It's a great question. It's actually never been more robust. Jon touched on our production slate, which includes 13 series for Starz and a dozen more in development, 14 or 15 across the television landscape outside of the Starz, Lionsgate family. And the demand is at an all-time high. One of our strengths is a very diverse portfolio of producers, writers, IP generators, both from within our own company, amazing brands like John Wick, which we're developing in series with Jeff and his team, and small movies that have become important mainstays for series like Dear White People. We're in production on Blindspotting for Starz right now. We have a fantastic partnership with the BBC that's yielded 2 pilots this season and one series order. So the demand is high and everyone wants premium, high-end scripted programming. It's what we've been doing for 20-plus years at Lionsgate. It's our own special lane. And now that lane, everyone wants to crowd -- or expand it into a 4-lane freeway, but very easy for us to do so. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alan Steven Gould, Loop Capital Markets LLC, Research Division - MD [19] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. If I could just follow-up for either Jon or Jeff. I was reading the trade articles from STARZPLAY International, it was talking about possibly doing an IPO in the next few years. Is that the plan on STARZPLAY International? I was quoting the CEO in an Arab News article. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [20] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. Look, we feel really great about our STARZPLAY Arabia. We're 32%. We have -- we're a controlling shareholder with approval rights. They continue to be the market leader. We feel good about what they've built. They've secured a local loan from Ruya, which is really a validation of how great they're doing in the marketplace. We do have, obviously, the rights to consolidate. And we'll continue to look at the business. And when we think it's the right thing to do in the right time, then we'll look at that as an option. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [21] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) And our next question comes from the line of Thomas Yeh from Morgan Stanley. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thomas L. Yeh, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Research Associate [22] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A quick question for Jeff. You mentioned that there's some ARPU trend impact as we move through the Comcast subscriber transition and lapped 1-year anniversary there. More broadly, it looks like there's been some continued stabilization on traditional linear Starz sub trends. Is there anything you would call out there about underlying drivers that's supporting uptake despite broader cord cutting at the industry level? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [23] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's a great question. I would say 2 things to remind everybody that we're not a fully distributed ad-supported network. And so we have a lot of penetration room on our traditional MVPD partners. And so we think that there's great -- again, great opportunity for us to grow on the traditional side with their audience as well as on the OTT side. I'll also remind everybody that by the end of this fiscal, we'll be at 80% a la carte on the traditional side. So that's really derisked the traditional business. It's put the incentives aligned with our partners to grow the business together. And as our content slate continues to outperform on their platforms, we're going together. And I think the really great thing about that is those are customers who are actually seeking out Starz and choosing Starz. So they're a much stickier customer, so churn is also coming down. So we -- I think we have an opportunity both to grow in the fast and more profitable side on the OTT side but also on the traditional business with our traditional partners. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thomas L. Yeh, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - Research Associate [24] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. Great. And then just quickly on the film strategy. I'm wondering if you could update us on your views of taking films through their premium VOD window. Is there a right-sized film or any puts and takes that helps determine what path of film might take in terms of monetization going forward? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joseph Drake, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Chairman of Motion Picture Group [25] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes, sure. This is Joe. Thanks for the question. I guess what I would say to you is that we have -- we talk a lot about it, adopted what we're calling a platform-agnostic approach to distributing film. We're looking at the theater business, and we do think that theaters will get open by this summer and maybe earlier. And we're prime for that. And at the same time, we've had a number of experiences now in the PVOD space. And what I would say is that we are seeing multiple opportunities or multiple options for distribution of each title. That's the way we greenlight our titles now. We look at the theatrical velocity. We look at PVOD, we look at other models, theatrical to PVOD and greenlight on that basis. And we're just seeing more opportunity than ever before. So I don't think it's a right-sized film for that model. I think it just has to do with film, what customers are you trying to reach, where are those customers, what's available in the marketplace at the time. We have -- we reorganized our overall structure internally to really bring all those groups together. What I can tell you is that our distribution and marketing teams are working like never before across every model and unlocking a ton of value. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [26] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Our next question comes from the line of Jim Goss from Barrington Research. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Charles Goss, Barrington Research Associates, Inc., Research Division - MD [27] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A couple of questions, one regarding the film slate. And you made an interesting point about sort of John Wick maybe -- perhaps being plotted for a series. Do you see more and more opportunity for increasing interplay between the film and TV production, especially since Starz has been improving its presence? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director [28] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Absolutely. Look, we've -- you've heard us talk about Lionsgate 360 a lot over the last couple of years. We are very, very integrated across this entire company. And so whether it -- when we're making a movie when TV is buying rights to a television series, we have a regular group that meets and looks at each piece of content in terms of how we can maximize it across every piece of our platform. I think John Wick and The Continental series is a great example of that. But there is -- there are a number of properties. 1619 is a great example of that, where we're working together to make sure that we're not -- Blindspotting, yes. So there's -- it's sort of a regular part of our business and I think something that we do better than anybody out there because we are so integrated and we work in a way that I think that -- where I think you find silos in other places. I think this organization is really reaping the benefits of that level of integration and collaboration. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Charles Goss, Barrington Research Associates, Inc., Research Division - MD [29] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Okay. And then with regard to Starz, as you've been able to increase its profile globally as well as domestically, can you talk about the consistency of the programming in domestic markets versus the various international markets? Are you able to leverage a lot of the programming? Do you have to have a lot of unique content in each one to make that work? And also, you mentioned that Starz, I think, had a lot of complementary positioning relative to some of the other services. Does that -- do you feel that creates a better runway? Or are you starting to get Starz as a first buy in more cases as you developed a better identity than you had originally? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [30] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good question. So I think first and foremost, the international expansion is really predicated on leaning on the domestic business as a foundational element. And so the slate as we continue to increase the marketing and the spending on the domestic content, it has to work globally. And so if you look at -- Girlfriend Experience is a perfect example. That has been a domestic show. We had moved the storyline to London with a very international cast, with a very international storyline. That should work all over the world. The Power franchise is one of the best-performing shows in the U.K. and in France and in some markets in LatAm. And so as we look at putting shows on the domestic network, we're always looking at how does that play internationally. But we also know that some of those shows won't play internationally. So we are augmenting those shows with third-party purchases from other partners domestically. And I would say also, I think the really unique industrial logic about putting the companies together is the ability to lean into the -- whether Joe just talked about, the Motion Picture IP, to put content on the air in terms of series, whether it's Blindspotting or The Continental, leaning in with Kevin on some of the library or our originals that we're producing out of Spain, out of India, out of LatAm to really supplement our global content footprint. And so I feel like the slate is really going to work around the world, and we'll augment where we need to. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [31] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from the line of Kutgun Maral from RBC Capital Markets. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kutgun Maral, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Assistant VP and Lead US Cable & Satellite Analyst of US Telecommunications Services [32] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Two, if I could. First, in terms of the increased investment in content and marketing you expect across the core business in 2022. Can you provide more color on where you see the greatest opportunity to lean into in terms of Starz, Television or Motion Pictures? And then if you could kind of help frame the magnitude of the increase you're thinking about, I guess. Since fiscal '21 has been so disrupted with COVID, how do we think about the path ahead relative to maybe fiscal '19 or pre-pandemic fiscal 2020 levels? And then I have a follow-up on Starz. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James W. Barge, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CFO [33] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure. Thanks. Well, absolutely. I mean speaking of pre-pandemic levels, I would expect the content marketing spend as a percentage of revenues to be pretty much in line with what we incurred in fiscal '20 as an example. Across all our businesses, we're finding Motion Picture, TV and Starz, great opportunities to drive revenue and secure our future with the investments across all 3 of the business units. So overall, that's driving increased revenues. So I would expect the overall impact on net profits to be modest. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Kutgun Maral, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Assistant VP and Lead US Cable & Satellite Analyst of US Telecommunications Services [34] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Understood. Okay. That's very helpful. And then if I could, on Starz domestic OTT. In the quarter, net adds, if I think about 300,000, seemed to be a bit of a deceleration versus the earlier days of COVID when you had, of course, the very robust trends from the pull forward of demand. I guess up until this point, you've grown that subscriber base so impressively. Going forward, is this quarter's pace what you see as maybe the new normal range of Starz domestic OTT net adds that we should expect going forward? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [35] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's a great question. We had a really big quarter last quarter, but that was, I think, driven more from the content that we had on the air. We had 2 monster hits with P-Valley and the premier of Ghost in last quarter, and we saw great subscriber growth there. If you go back in history and you look at every time we put the Power franchise on, we can see these really spikes of big quarters. This quarter, we had some of our smaller shows on, and so you saw the growth slow a bit. But we expect fourth quarter globally to look much more like second quarter in terms of the cadence of subscriber gains. And then as Jon said in his prepared remarks, we're coming with our most robust and fully complete slate that we've ever had in the business with 3 Power shows, P-Valley coming back, Hightown coming back, a bunch of new content that we're about to announce. And so it's our best and most complete slate. And so you'll see acceleration in growth. But also, we've scheduled this -- and Ali can talk about it in a minute. We schedule it to help reduce churn. And so as we fill out 2 shows on the air every week, 52 weeks a year, we should continue to see churn come down to an all-time low and accelerate the business even more on the front end. Ali, do you want to add anything on that? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alison Hoffman, Starz - President of Domestic Networks [36] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes. No, just we will be consistently on the air with shows for women and underrepresented audiences next year. And just to repeat what Jeff said, 3 installments of the Power franchise and also Outlander happening next year in addition to a slate of other new series that we really have great expectations for. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [37] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And our next question comes from the line of Alexia Quadrani from JPMorgan. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alexia Skouras Quadrani, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst [38] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I wanted to follow-up on your earlier comments about distribution, theatrical versus streaming, and just dig into that a little bit further. Ultimately, I guess when the pandemic is behind us, I'm curious to how you see the distribution sort of platform, how much has it changed in terms of the decision of how much goes to traditional box office versus streaming. And also if you have any color on how maybe the economics of the various outlets impact your business. And then I have a follow-up. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Joseph Drake, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Chairman of Motion Picture Group [39] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sure, Alexia. So what I would say to you is that much like Starz, we're moving -- we've leaned heavily into content. We will have over 40 films across all of our various distribution platforms that will be released into '22, and that should grow again into '23. And that's a reflection of, one, our expectation that the theatrical market is going to come back but that these opportunities that we're taking advantage of now, these new windows, these new ways of distributing consumers consuming in a different way and platform appetite downstream, we think what we have is an environment where there's actually added opportunity. It's not one versus the other. And so we've leaned into content accordingly. We structured the business accordingly. As it relates to the metrics, certainly, what we've seen in the last year is that when you are able to collapse some of these windows, you move quickly from theatrical to into PVOD or directly into PVOD and then move up some of your other windows depending on the particular film, what you're doing -- and you can also gear marketing spending differently. We've been able to be more efficient in certain cases with our marketing spend. We've been able to accelerate cash turn in some of these new models. And so it's actually improved our metrics on our films that are released in these alternative models. We've also, along with that, the team we call segment 2, our home entertainment team that does this business has actually accelerated -- they've increased the volume of content because they're seeing the kind of opportunity. So it's -- the metrics in some of these new models are really compelling. And yet we still believe very strongly in the value of a theatric release that can really set up a long-term value for our titles and ultimately help drive library. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jeffrey A. Hirsch, Starz - President & CEO [40] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The only thing I would add to that, Alexia, I'd add one more thing, which is every single piece of content that we play with is a bespoke model. A few people have mentioned already this communication between all of our divisions that happens 10 times every single day. And so when there's a picture, Joe is looking at every one of our distribution channels, including Starz and saying, "How can we add value to what would be a normal model here?" And as I say, it's a kind of a unique culture that we have in our company. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alexia Skouras Quadrani, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst [41] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And then just a quick follow-up on the share price. Stock's pretty much doubled off the lows in recent weeks. I think it's largely -- at least in large part due to technicals, where we're seeing that across so many of these value names in media. I'm just curious on how you view the share price now. Any drivers behind the move that we might be missing outside of that? Any color there? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Feltheimer, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - CEO & Director [42] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alexia, it's certainly nice to see investors beginning to recognize our improving fundamentals. Those fundamentals, they're rapidly increasing our asset base and building real value across all of our core businesses every day. And we obviously appreciate the attention the equity is starting now to garner. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [43] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Operator Instructions) There are no further questions in the question queue. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Milton Marsh, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. - Senior VP & Head of IR [44] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Great. Thank you, Carolyn. I'll just make a closing statement here. I'd like everyone to please refer to the Press Releases & Events tab under the Investor Relations section of the company's website for a discussion of certain non-GAAP forward-looking measures discussed on the call today. Thank you very much. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operator [45] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be available for replay after 4:00 p.m. today through February 6 at midnight. You may access the AT&T Executive replay system at any time by dialing 1 (866) 207-1041 and entering the access code of 1780119. International participants may dial (402) 970-0847. Those numbers again are 1 (866) 207-1041 and international (402) 970-0847 with access code of 1780119. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T conferencing services. You may now disconnect.