Screen talked to Jim Packer, Lionsgate president of worldwide television and digital distribution during MIPTV.
Lionsgate Television recently enjoyed season-best ratings for hit series Mad Men. However, the company is equally excited about new partnerships with digital platforms Netflix and Hulu.
About Netflix’s originally commissioned series Orange is the New Black, the prison-set comedy from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, Packer said: “We are waiting to find the right lead – a big actress known internationally and in the US. The show will be multi-million dollar per episode and will feel like a network show.”
“It will have multiple story arcs and have a binge quality which fits the Netflix model well.”
Orange is the New Black, an adaptation of Piper Kerman’s memoir about life in a women’s prison, will be Netflix’s third foray into original programming [not including the recommission of Arrested Development].
Packer said Netflix was a “great new digital partner” for Lionsgate, which has also recently found a firm friend in SVOD service Hulu, who picked up series one of acclaimed crime-drama Endgame starring Shawn Doyle. Packer said: “I’m pretty sure we will do another series with Hulu, with the same team, cast and crew.”
The executive also described how his meetings at MIPTV had a different range this year, with digital platforms increasingly visible on his schedule: “I had a full meeting with Amazon about their rollout. I had a meeting about an SVOD service in Brazil. I had a lot of discussions about windowing strategy. SVOD services are making us think hard about new windows. Both of those are meetings I probably wouldn’t have had two or three years ago.”
As for Amazon’s original programming, Packer said it was on the table: “Amazon are looking at original programming in the US,” he confirmed.
Packer said Lionsgate is “excited” about their pilots Nashville with ABC and Next Caller Please with NBC.