Sony's Future Media Strategy May Be Outside The Box - The One In Your Living Room

Sony was never big in the traditional business of TV distribution -- networks, TV stations, or cable channels.

For years, analysts wondered how Sony could gain enough market synergies from its limited traditional network outlets -- the Game Show Network and a number of branded international channels.

Sony was always compared negatively to other media companies like Time Warner, NBC Universal, CBS and Viacom, since it lacked traditional media arenas.  

For Sony, it was always about a movie and/or TV program and some electronic device -- a TV set, a video game player, or Walkman. Years ago this equation always seemed far-fetched. Now that formula doesn't seem like such as bad idea.

With a plethora of consumer devices angling for ways to get closer and closer to content, Sony's high-concept, sometimes highly criticized, strategy of connecting content and entertainment devices makes the company seem very modern.

Now, Sony is building set-top cable/satellite boxes directly into its TV sets, which, according to chief executive Howard Stringer, means a very small technical leap of sending a Sony movie to a Sony TV set.

You are probably thinking Sony doesn't own all TV sets - that its impact might be limited. Yes, but it has a healthy market share. NBC, Disney, News Corp., CBS, and Viacom, don't individually command a monopoly on the TV network business. But they too have healthy market shares.

Is Sony now somewhat like Apple and the iPod -- but with valuable programming content?  Not exactly.

Some would say Sony blew it by not inventing the iPod as well as dreaming up the whole iTunes empire - especially when it invented the world of portable music decades away, with the Walkman.

But now, with new digital technologies eliminating many middle distribution points for TV and video, Sony would seem to have another chance to make its strategy work



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