From Pariah To Company MVP: The Quiet Rise Of Sony’s TV Division

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 5:40pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

In October 2001, then-Sony Corp of America CEO Howard Stringer declared that the network production business “doesn’t make any sense anymore,” effectively closing the studio’s primetime TV division, Columbia TriStar Television. Overall deals were dissolved, executives were let go, and the development slate was trashed in a move Sony projected would save it more that $100 million a year. Sony‘s syndication TV chief Steve Mosko was tapped to head a stripped-down TV unit, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (renamed Sony Pictures TV in 2002), which consisted primarily of syndication/daytime and modest international operations.

Related: Sony Pictures To Shift Emphasis From Movies To TV

Today, 12 years later, Stringer’s successor Michael Lynton announced that the company will make “a significant shift in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” This is Sony’s biggest public acknowledgement to date of the growing significance of its TV business, which has been rapidly expanding during the past decade, mainly under the radar. Sony does not separate its movie and TV revenues, but it has been well known that TV has contributed well over 50% of Sony Entertainment’s operating income for the past couple of years, with some indicating that the TV group’s contribution may be over 60%, especially with the film division going through a rough time. While there have been profit stalwarts, like Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Days Of Our Lives, The Young & The Restless and the Seinfeld off-network rights, there also have been new areas of growth. The biggest revenue driver has been Sony’s international TV networks, which have expanded to 127 channels in 150 countries, up from 78 and 83 a decade ago.

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Sony TV Execs Talk Up Global Opportunities
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As the biggest profit generator likely for the entire Sony Entertainment, the international network group is likely to get the lion’s share of the additional resources the company will be committing to its TV operations, to go toward new investments and growing the existing channels. But TV production also is expected to get a boost. After the bloodbath of 2001, it took awhile for Sony to get back in the network business. The studio took a different approach than the one that got it into financial trouble in the first place — signing a lot of pricey overall deals and spending a ton on development and pilots to support them with little to show for it in terms of on-air series. Burned by the volume network business, Sony forged its way into the then-uncharted world of basic cable original programming with FX’s The Shield, which it distributed internationally, Rescue Me, Damages and Justified and AMC’s Breaking Bad. It gradually returned to network TV with modest hits such as Rules Of Engagement and Community.

Related: Sony CEO: Entertainment Is “Crucial” To Company
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Sony TV Execs Talk Up Global Opportunities

Sony has its eye on television, telling investors that it will become more central to its entertainment strategy. That’s a change from a few years ago, Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko says: The Japanese … Read More »

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Steve Mosko Re-Ups As President Of Sony Pictures TV

By | Wednesday September 26, 2012 @ 10:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Steve Mosko has quietly renewed his deal as president of Sony Pictures Television. This year marks Mosko’s 20th anniversary at Sony, where he oversees the entire global TV business: production, distribution and channels. I hear he was a frontrunner for the CEO of Tribune job but chose to stay.  The exact length of Mosko’s new multiyear deal is unclear; his most recent contract was for four years. He reports to Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.

Mosko, who joined Sony in 1992 as a syndie sales executive, was named domestic TV president in 2001 when Sony’s chief executive Howard Stringer had dramatically downsized the company’s U.S. operation to a point of almost ceasing TV production. Over the past decade, Mosko has rebuilt the company’s domestic TV business. Sony became the first major studio to embrace cable with FX’s The Shield, Rescue Me, Damages, followed by AMC’s Breaking Bad and FX’s Justified among others. It has Masters Of Sex coming up on Showtime.

Additionally, Sony is the only major studio that produces all forms of TV programming — primetime network and cable scripted series (Rules Of Engagement, Community, Happy Endings, upcoming Last Resort and Made In Jersey), daytime talk shows (Dr. Oz, upcoming Queen Latifah talker), daytime soaps (Days Of Our Lives, The Young And The Restless), syndicated game shows (Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!), reality shows (Shark Tank), TV movies (History hit Hatfields & McCoys, Lifetime’s upcoming Steel Magnolias), as well as digital programming (multi-platform video network Crackle). In 2009, Mosko added oversight of Sony TV’s international TV division, including Sony’s 120 international TV channels and local production (Sony TV has been the most active in setting up local versions of U.S. comedy hits like Married… With Children, The Nanny and Everybody Loves Raymond). Read More »

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Sony TV Taps Paula Askanas As EVP Communications

By | Tuesday October 11, 2011 @ 1:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Longtime Sony Pictures TV top PR executive Paula Askanas has been promoted to EVP Communications. She oversees business and trade press and internal communication for the company worldwide, reporting to SPT president Steve Mosko. “Paula’s ability to understand both a … Read More »

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Andrea Wong Tapped As President Of Int’l Production At Sony Pictures TV & President International At Sony Pictures Entertainment

Nellie Andreeva

EAfter a year and a half away from the spotlight, Andrea Wong is rejoining the executive ranks with top international positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The former CEO of Lifetime, who had been rumored for virtually every high-profile TV executive job that became available in the past 18 months, has been named President of International Production for Sony Pictures Television and President of International for SPE. She will be based in London.

In her SPT position, Wong will head the studio’s international TV production business, reporting to SPT president Steve Mosko. She will oversee SPT’s 15 owned and joint venture international production companies. Wong will shepherd the development of new formats as well as the local adaptations of SPT-owned formats, primarily on the unscripted side. The studio’s library of reality formats, which was boosted by the 2008 acquisition of Dutch company 2waytraffic, includes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Dragon’s Den and Pyramid. Additionally, SPT has been setting up local versions of its daytime talk show Dr. Oz and some of its library sitcoms, including The Nanny, Married … With Children and Everybody Loves Raymond. It was Wong’s successful tenure as head of alternative and late-night at ABC, where she developed such hit franchises as The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, that was key in landing her the SPT job, which is skewed heavily towards reality. “Andrea’s business acumen and her role in developing successful unscripted programming like Dancing With the Stars and The Bachelor make her a perfect fit for SPT,” Mosko said.

Wong replaces Kees Abrahams, who is stepping down as president of international production for SPT. Abrahams, former CEO of 2waytraffic, had been overseeing SPT’s international production operations since 2waytraffic’s acquisition. “Kees’ entrepreneurial spirit has been instrumental to the growth of our television production business internationally and we thank him for all of his efforts,”  Mosko said. Added Kees, “I think it is now time for me to pursue some new commercial opportunities, and I wish Sony well.” Read More »

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