Sony’s Steve Mosko: A Combined TV-Film Company Like “Peanut Butter And Jelly”

Working as an executive in a company that has both a television operation and a motion-picture business is like “peanut butter and jelly,” said Sony Television President Steve Mosko this morning at an MPAA-sponsored panel at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, on “The Future of Viewing.”

Mosko was joined by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). The San Antonio-area Congressman is, along with twin brother and now HUD Secretary Julian Castro, considered a fast-rising star in Democratic Party politics.

“Being part of a motion-picture and television company is like peanut butter and jelly,” Mosko said, as the two businesses, once largely separate, continue to smear together and complement each other in many ways as viewing options proliferate and companies depend more and more on international success.

For the many shows that Sony TV produces, such as The Blacklist, Better Call Saul, Masters of Sex and Outlander, about 60 percent of each show’s revenues come from international markets. That’s nearly as much as with the film business, where 70 percent of typical box office comes from overseas. And how people are seeing those shows is rapidly diversifying.

“The beauty of the business now is that there are lots of ways to watch,” Mosko said. Broader distribution means broader interest in shows, and potentially, broader opportunities to pirate content. TV networks and film studios are both facing the challenges with more or less similar levels of concern and approach.

“We’re never going to stop piracy forever, but we can make it as difficult as possible for pirates,” Mosko said. “We’re all on the same page at some level that we have to protect our content.”

For instance, when it came time to show that final episode of Sony’s hugely successful Breaking Bad, “We worked to make sure the airdates around the world were as close as possible.”

From a TV executive’s standpoint, getting big-name talent for shows is now easier than it once was, as perceptions have shifted and quality TV projects are attracting both actors and behind-the-camera big names long considered focused on films only.

“The [TV and movie] talent pool isn’t as divided as it once was,” Mosko said.

But a broad-ranging, international audience for shows requires a broad-ranging approach to casting, writing and more.

The audience we are tying to reach is diverse,” Mosko said. “So if we don’t reach them, we fail.” Diversity programs succeed “when you work from the ground up.”

Mosko also admitted to a few regrets, including the fate of Pan Am, something of a Mad Men for the skies of the 1960s.

Pan Am could’ve been great,” he said.



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