American premium cable provider Starz has launched ‘Lionsgate Play’ as a standalone service in India, after months of being available as an add-on in other streaming services. The service is priced at a modest ₹99 monthly or ₹699 yearly, reflecting the relatively small catalogue it currently has. “We will also be launching Indian originals in the coming months,” Rohit Jain, Lionsgate South Asia’s Managing Director said in a statement. Lionsgate Play currently has only English-language films and Starz originals like Spartacus. It also has some content dubbed into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri and Kannada.
Starz service, minus a lot of Starz content: In spite of the service’s focus on premium Hollywood and English-language content, much of Starz’s ongoing TV programming, like American Gods, Outlander, and Hightown, is not available on the platform, since many titles have been licensed to other streaming services in India. This strategy could allow the company to monetise its competition while sustaining the hit of low pricing, but could leave consumers looking forward to watching Lionsgate’s own productions somewhat disappointed. At a virtual press event, Jain said that arrangements with telecom operators would continue, as the service looks to distribute its content through multiple means. Subscriptions from India could shore up numbers for Starz, which recently reported over 20 million subscribers on streaming platforms that it operates around the world.
In reply to a query on censorship at a press event on Wednesday, Jain said that Lionsgate Play was providing content advisories to users for mature content. The service doesn’t appear to be censoring anything as of now, with on-screen nudity and uncensored versions of Hollywood films being available on the platform. Lionsgate Play signed the Uniform Self-Regulation Code for Online Curated Content Providers, which was drafted and signed by the major over-the-top streaming platforms in India to avoid government censorship.