EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Steve Mosko has quietly renewed his deal as president of Sony Pictures Television. This year marks Mosko’s 20th anniversary at Sony, where he oversees the entire global TV business: production, distribution and channels. I hear he was a frontrunner for the CEO of Tribune job but chose to stay. The exact length of Mosko’s new multiyear deal is unclear; his most recent contract was for four years. He reports to Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.
Mosko, who joined Sony in 1992 as a syndie sales executive, was named domestic TV president in 2001 when Sony’s chief executive Howard Stringer had dramatically downsized the company’s U.S. operation to a point of almost ceasing TV production. Over the past decade, Mosko has rebuilt the company’s domestic TV business. Sony became the first major studio to embrace cable with FX’s The Shield, Rescue Me, Damages, followed by AMC’s Breaking Bad and FX’s Justified among others. It has Masters Of Sex coming up on Showtime.
Additionally, Sony is the only major studio that produces all forms of TV programming — primetime network and cable scripted series (Rules Of Engagement, Community, Happy Endings, upcoming Last Resort and Made In Jersey), daytime talk shows (Dr. Oz, upcoming Queen Latifah talker), daytime soaps (Days Of Our Lives, The Young And The Restless), syndicated game shows (Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!), reality shows (Shark Tank), TV movies (History hit Hatfields & McCoys, Lifetime’s upcoming Steel Magnolias), as well as digital programming (multi-platform video network Crackle). In 2009, Mosko added oversight of Sony TV’s international TV division, including Sony’s 120 international TV channels and local production (Sony TV has been the most active in setting up local versions of U.S. comedy hits like Married… With Children, The Nanny and Everybody Loves Raymond).
Sony’s channel group, which also includes GSN in the U.S., is one of the biggest in the industry. While it rarely draws media attention, Sony’s international operation has been a major revenue generator. The same goes for Sony’s TV division as a whole. While the company only reports combined financial results for film and TV, television reportedly contributes well over 50% of Sony’s operating income.
Sony has sold Rules Of Engagement in syndication and to Netflix; and Community to Hulu and UK’s LoveFilm. The studio also has been successful in fighting for bubble series, like Rules, and cancelled ones (Fox’s Breaking In and CBS’ Unforgettable were both renewed after originally axed.)
Sony has had a strong selling season, landing the biggest commitment in years — a 22-episode order by NBC for a Michael J. Fox comedy produced by Will Gluck. It also stirred a bidding war for an Eddie Murphy-Shawn Ryan Beverly Hills Cop reboot, which landed at CBS with pilot production commitment. Two years ago, Sony TV tweaked its overall deal strategy, pulling away from pod deals with non-writng producers in favor of creators-showrunners. Its remaining pods — Jamie Tarses’ Fanfare, Happy Madison, Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment — are all very active, along with such creators as Ryan, David Shore and Michael Dinner.