Sony Pictures Television has sold its entire network portfolio in Central and Eastern Europe to Antenna Group, Variety can reveal. The deal covers 22 pay-TV channels and two OTT services in 12 territories.
Netherlands-headquartered media giant Antenna has operations in North America, Europe and Australia. The deal will see the company acquire the Central and Eastern European AXN, Sony and Viasat pay-TV channels and on-demand services as part of a major investment in the region. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Collectively, the Sony portfolio has 90% pay-TV market penetration, reaching 24 million subscribers in Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro.
The 22 channels, which include the AXN and Viasat legacy brands, include a mix of original productions and international programming from U.S. studios, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, CBS, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal, Disney and eOne.
Antenna, which began in 1988 as a sole radio operation in Greece and now reaches more than 150 million across its footprint, wants to enhance the channels with more news and entertainment and inject original, local programming. It will further invest in production companies across the region as well as other TV channels and OTT services.
The deal comes just months after Sony sold off its entire U.K. channels portfolio to U.S. investment firm Narrative Capital. That deal covered seven free-to-air channels, including Sony Movies, Sony Movies Action, Sony Movies Classic, Sony Channel, POP, Tiny POP and POP Max, as well as the brands’ various digital assets.
The Antenna sale is the latest offloading of channel assets for Sony, which last year sold its Asia channels to former Sony executives Andy Kaplan and George Chien, who launched KC Global Media to operate the channels. Sony initiated a review of its networks portfolio in 2019.
Theodore Kyriakou, chairman of Antenna Group, said: “As Antenna Group continues to invest in media opportunities globally, the CEE region remains an important focus for us. We have invested in this region for more than 20 years aiming to provide the best entertainment and news content locally. This acquisition is yet another step in this direction whilst unlocking further growth in these markets.”
Adam Theiler, CEO of pay-TV Antenna Group B.V., said: “I am delighted to welcome the Sony Networks’ team in Warsaw, Budapest and Bucharest to Antenna Group. Together, we will renew our efforts to entertain the legions of fans who trust AXN and Viasat, and by doing so, confirm our place as the preferred content partner of the pay-tv operators and advertisers who share our aspiration to grow the pay-tv market in Central and Eastern Europe.”