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Lionsgate exec: consumers will pay more in subscription pay universe

BANFF, Alta. - The head of Lionsgate Television Group said the continuing growth of digital media will mean that viewers are headed to a "subscription pay universe."

Lionsgate chairman, Kevin Beggs, told the Banff World Media Festival that the industry is rapidly moving to more personalization and customization.

"I see a future not that far off that digital offerings from a variety of brands that we know — whether it's ESPN or Global — are going to be available on your iPad with an app. You'll start paying for these one at a time," Beggs said in a session hosted by veteran newsman Dan Rather.

"You'll start paying for these one at a time. That cable bill of old of $150 a month will maybe become a little less and you'll start paying more because in increments of $6 and $8 and $9 it feels less," he said.

"When you add up the 20 services you have to have you'll be paying more."

Lionsgate Television produced such series as "Nashville," "Anger Management," "The Dead Zone," "Five Days to Midnight," "Weeds," "Nurse Jackie," "Boss," "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and the Emmy Award-winning "Mad Men."

Beggs said content will remain paramount but consumers will become increasingly picky about what they want to pay for. He said it is common for a viewer to stack up several episodes from a single series and watch them all at once thanks to on-demand streaming.

"Netflix being the most recent entry into the market. It will be easy to get what you want. You won't watch much live unless it's sports or an award show," Beggs said.

"You'll pay for the things you really care about and the things you don't care so much about you won't pay for."

Beggs said it is likely that only shows like sporting events such as the Super Bowl, awards shows and reality TV will be watched live. The biggest challenge with the large amount of material out there is for the viewer to find time to actually watch it.

He said many people catch up on their shows while working out or on long airplane rides.

"You'll be awash in content. The biggest challenge will be how do you find the time to actually watch it all? At the end of the day it will be the shows and if you love something and you have to have it then you will pay," he said.

"It will be a subscription pay universe and we're already headed there."

The Banff World Media Festival runs until Wednesday.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter.

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