At a prominent tech event known for hawking new televisions and the latest flashy gadgets, Sony Corp. executives put the company’s content, including its movies and music, on center stage.
“Sony’s vision is to be a creative entertainment company, creating and maximizing communities of interest,” said Tom Rothman. The chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group spoke Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“To do that,” he said, “you need to have not only outstanding technology but strong entertainment content and lasting intellectual property.”
The emphasis comes at a time when media companies are in a fierce battle over original content and audiences. Entertainment rivals such as Walt Disney Co. are building their own streaming platforms, while tech giants such as Apple and Amazon are heavily investing in original content to entice people to join their subscription services.
Japanese-owned Sony is in a unique position because it manufactures hardware such as televisions, has a streaming video and game distribution platform through its PlayStation consoles, and produces movies such as the hit “Venom,” which earned more than $855 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.
“It’s a battle royal for content,” said Daniel Ives, a managing director of equity research for Wedbush Securities. “Sony realizes that, [and it’s saying], ‘Don’t forget about us, we’re here to stay.”
Sony announced that the number of monthly active users had grown to more than 90 million on its PlayStation Network, a platform that enables people to stream movies, TV and music, as well as play games. That could provide an established distribution platform for its content, something that some competing entertainment companies don’t have.
Sony Pictures has been enjoying some recent success with its movies, including “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which won a Golden Globe for best animated feature. The studio, which has struggled in the past, has been able to capitalize on its intellectual property surrounding Marvel characters, including Spider-Man and Venom.
During the 45-minute CES talk, company executives emphasized how Sony technology helped enable filmmakers and musical artists to be more creative. They noted that eight Sony TV productions were using the company’s Venice digital cameras. On the film side, director Ang Lee used a Sony F65 camera for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”
“Sony is used from the content creation to the delivery in their craft in the highest possible quality across the globe,” said Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida. “We partner with creators because we believe in their dreams to move people emotionally.”
Although tying the company’s electronics division with its content side makes sense, some analysts noted Sony had struggled to make synergies work in the past.
“It’s not just laying out the blueprint,” Ives said, “it’s execution that’s going to be the key.”