×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Breaking Bad’ to ‘Blacklist’: Sony Touts TV Growth to Investors

TV takes centerstage as conglom makes its case to Wall Street

The message was unmistakable: TV is the growth engine of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

That was the word spread to Wall Streeters and investors who gathered on the Culver City lot Nov. 21 for the first-ever investor day presentation for Sony’s studio and music divisions.

Michael Lynton, the Sony Entertainment CEO who oversees the Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music operations, made it clear that the studio was in the midst of a “shift in emphasis from motion pictures to television production.”

The numbers tell the tale. According to revenue and growth projections for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment estimates revenue of $8.4 billion, with a thin operating income margin of 7.5%.

The growth rate in film production is expected to be flat at best. Television production is pacing at mid- to high-single digits.

For longtime watchers of Sony’s TV production biz, this is a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of a dozen years ago. In late 2001, then-Sony USA boss Howard Stringer shuttered the studio’s entire primetime production operation because it had become such a drain on the bottom line.

Within a few years, Sony inched back into the network big leagues under a new regime led by Sony Pictures TV topper Steve Mosko. Mosko brought fiscal discipline to the business from his background working in Sony’s scrappy syndication unit, which also was an early entrant in the business of producing firstrun cable dramas.

Today, that market is booming, and Sony has seen big returns for its investment in “Breaking Bad” and other shows. The studio takes calculated risks on broadcast network fare such as the James Spader drama “The Blacklist,” which is working out well for NBC so far this season (the studio’s Michael J. Fox sitcom for NBC, not so much).

But the real mojo at Sony, like other TV congloms, is in the less-sexy business of international channels, projected to yield growth in the low- to mid-teens next year.

All of the majors have rushed to grab overseas TV real estate in recent years. Sony generally is seen as ranking No. 3 behind 21st Century Fox and Discovery Communications in international footprint. The studio is up to 127 channels (and counting) serving 150 countries, with a revenue growth rate of 24% during the past 10 years.

Mosko assured investors that the media networks wing “would be the cornerstone of our growth strategy.”

Biz watchers have long wondered why Sony never beefed up its U.S. cable portfolio beyond GSN. Lynton seemed to acknowledge those missed opportunities, leaving the door open for acquisitions in response to an investor question.

“I still think there are a number of cable networks out there that might be good opportunities for us to marry up with,” he said.

The pool of eligible bachelors is pretty small, but let the flirting begin.

More Biz

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Colin Kaepernick Kneel

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Settlement With NFL

    Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two football players who alleged the National Football League colluded to oust them from the game after they started kneeling in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem, have reached a settlement in the matter, according to a statement from the sports organization and lawyers representing [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    New Media Residuals and Feature Films Contribute to Spike in Writers' Pay

    The outlook for members of the Writers Guild of America has brightened — even amid pervasive uncertainty in the entertainment industry. According to the most recent report to WGA West members, earnings surged 2.8% to $1.41 billion in 2017, thanks mostly to gains in feature films and new-media residuals. Total covered earnings for WGA West [...]

  • Joe Dante Gremlins

    Hollywood Execs Seek Licensing Deals at the New York Toy Fair

    On Feb. 16 more than 30,000 studio executives, buyers and toy company reps will gather in Manhattan for the annual Toy Fair New York, all vying for market share and trying to snag the latest hot trend in a fast-changing industry. Those working the film side of the business will focus much of their attention [...]

  • Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper A Star

    Universal Music Group Fuels 11.3% Rise in Vivendi's 2018 Revenues

    Vivendi’s revenues were up 11.3% to €13.93 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2018, powered by Universal Music Group, which delivered such hits as the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack and Drake’s new album. UMG’s revenues climbed by 10% to €6 billion ($6.8 billion) compared to 2017. On top of the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content