Sony Pictures CEO Touts Studio's Upside Amid Consolidation, Rise of Streaming Services

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Tony Vinciquerra

The trends put it in a strong position as an "independent studio" that can also develop intellectual property from other units at Sony, Tony Vinciquerra said Tuesday at a strategy meeting and investor day in Tokyo.

Sony Corp. CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra on Tuesday both touted the studio's upside in the rapidly shifting entertainment landscape, particularly amid consolidation and the rise of streaming services, during presentations to investors and the media in Tokyo.

They also highlighted the opportunity for developing intellectual property from other Sony units.

The day at the company's headquarters began with a presentation on Sony Corp.'s strategy from Yoshida, during which he pointed to the growing demand for content and SPE's unique position as positives that will contribute to the bottom line.

"Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology," said the exec. "Sony is an entertainment company which has content [intellectual property] made by creators in the game, music, pictures and animation areas. We are also an electronics business which delivers the content made by creators to users."

In spite of speculation that SPE is a potential takeover target and that it will struggle to compete against the entertainment and media conglomerates formed by recent mega-deals, such as Walt Disney's acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox, Yoshida insisted the studio had a strong role to play in the new landscape.

"The proliferation of subscription streaming services has increased the demand for music and video content and is acting as a tailwind for companies like Sony, that own businesses producing content like music and video, such as movies, music and television programs," he said.

Yoshida went on to emphasize that SPE is "a Hollywood studio with an approximately 100-year history and we have a large library of content that can be revitalized." He also suggested that as part of the wider Sony group, alongside the music and games divisions, SPE was in a unique position to leverage entertainment IP across units. "Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios has established a production team at SPE's Culver City studios to create movies based on video games," noted the exec, who said that Sony would accelerate the creation of synergies across content genres.

After presentations by the respective heads of the games and music divisions, Vinciquerra went on to outline SPE's strategy against a background of "unprecedented changes taking place in our industry." The exec said that "every studio has had to rethink its strategy" before expanding on the themes set out by Yoshida.

Vinciquerra pointed to the growth in the number of drama series that SPE was producing for streaming platforms and insisted that the studio's lack of its own streaming service would be an asset as new services, including Disney's upcoming Disney+, come online. He added that creators also see this position as an advantage because the studio is "not locked-in to a single streaming platform."

At last year's event, Vinciquerra had said SPE would be exploring partnerships, but in response to a question about that strategy on Tuesday, he indicated the company had altered course.

"Our view has changed. There is a need for an independent studio," said the exec. "Alliances may happen in the future, but for the next few years, there is a very clear path for us."

While the investor day was continuing, Sony stock closed down more than 4 percent at ¥5,614 ($50.90) in Tokyo trading, against a largely flat Nikkei 225 index.