CES: Sony CEO Kaz Hirai Breaks Silence on Studio Hack in Keynote Address

Conglom touts new partnerships with Netflix, Google on cutting-edge TVs

Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai addressed the Sony Pictures hack at the beginning of his address to attendees Monday at the Intl. CES 2015 confab.

“Both Sony Pictures Entertainment, former employees and certainly current employees, they were unfortunately the victim of one of the most vicious and malicious cyber-attacks that we have known in recent history,” said Hirai from the stage at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “But I have to say I am very proud of all employees and all the partners we’ve worked with as well who stood up against the extortionist effort of the criminals.”

The comments were the first public remarks Hirai made since the hack occurred last month, destabilizing the studio component of the conglomerate.

“I have to say freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association — those are very important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business. And today as you all know, ‘The Interview’ is available through multiple online venues as well as through satellite, telecom and cable partners and of this month as well as 580 independent theaters just alone here in the United States,” Hirai said. “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the partners who made this possible, the members of the media who supported our launch, but most importantly the people who have come out to see the movie in the theaters or various online venues.”

Hirai also plugged another Sony film, “Annie,” complimenting the film on its Golden Globe nominations. He also touted the strength of Sony’s biggest hits in TV and film over the past year, including “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “22 Jump Street,” “The Goldbergs” and “The Blacklist.” In addition, he highlighted key recent releases from the Sony Music division, including albums from Iggy Azalea and Pink Floyd.

The Sony CEO also did some tubthumping for “Powers,” the upcoming scripted drama series produced by Sony Pictures exclusively for PlayStation. “We very much look forward to making it a huge hit and another cross-Sony success,” said Hirai.

The conglomerate’s gaming console, PlayStation 4, also got some love, with Hirai commending it for selling 18.5 million units since launch — a greater rate of adoption than any previous iteration of PlayStation.

Hirai also pledged Sony will keep its foot on the gas in 4K content creation and delivery. “4K will continue to be an important area of development and distinction for Sony,” he said, citing TV series that currently shoot or are about to begin shooting in 4K, including “The Blacklist” and “Masters of Sex.”

Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics, replaced Hirai on stage midway through the presentation to showcase Sony’s 4k TVs, including the new X900C Series, which he described as the thinnest LCD set on the market.

He also showed off a new Sony 4K Handycam and Action Cam cameras with some help from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who made the sole celebrity appearance in a presentation that typically features more star power in years past.

Fasulo also revealed that all of Sony’s 2015 TVs will run on Google’s Android TV platform, enabling users to throw content from mobile devices to the TV and to navigate programming with cutting-edge voice-powered search. “Try to trick it, it’s pretty amazing,” raved Fasulo. “When we launch, it will translate 42 languages.”

Fasulo was also joined onstage by Greg Peters, chief streaming and partnerships officer at Netflix, who saluted Sony’s pioneering work on its connected TVs to enable a great content experience worthy of being included in its new Netflix Recommended TV initiative. Citing Netflix’s growing list of programming available in 4K, Peters also announced that his company would work together with Sony to make programming available in high dynamic range sometime this year.

“4K is great, but when consumers see HDR, they are going to be blown away,” said Peters. “This increased spectrum of brightness is stunning and it adds tremendous realism to the content you are watching.”

 

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