Michael Lynton, chairman/CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and CEO of Sony Entertainment -- in charge of its movie/TV and music businesses -- is departing.
Might the lone-independent studio, without any traditional TV network ownership connections, be in for a major shift -- acquisition or otherwise?
The Hollywood Reporter has mused that CBS, for one, might be interested in making a major investment -- if not outright purchase -- the last big independent movie studios. CBS owns modest studio, CBS Films, started in 2007.
And though CBS has dismissed notions about a Sony connection, Les Moonves, chairman of CBS Corp., has talked up -- time and again -- that the creation of high-quality entertainment content continues to be the crucial for likes of major media companies. So analysts wonder: Why not?
Sony Pictures Entertainment’s parent company, Sony Corp. overall continues to straddle an uneasy bridge between manufacturing media devices (TV sets, video game devices) and content (movies and TV shows), as well as media platforms: Crackle (an advertising supported video on demand service), and Playstation Vue (a growing digital service of linear TV networks).
Add in Sony’s rough time of it when it comes to mobile devices -- mobile phones especially: After years of struggling, Sony has contracted this business as a much smaller enterprise -- though now making a small profit.
Sony started this broad diversification process decades ago -- and though somewhat derided at the start -- many make the argument that going direct-to-consumers, eliminating middle content TV controlling businesses, was the right call, and now the ultimate way to go.
You might focus on Sony’s TV show output -- on networks (broadcast, cable, syndication) -- or theatrical movies, and that might not say much. Sony was in fifth place of six studios in terms of 2016 U.S. box-office revenues.
For the current TV season, the broadcast networks ordered five new TV series from Sony (up from four last year) -- the fewest of the six major TV producing studios. With an existing three on the air, that brought its total to eight at the start of the TV season.
What does all this add up to? More possibilities and niche success stories for sure. But is there something bigger to come?