Sony Pictures TV chairman Steve Mosko will be leaving the studio after more than 23 years. That is a major blow to the TV operation, which had been a stabilizing factor and a major revenue driver for parent Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony declined comment. The exit is coming as Mosko’s contract was coming up and he had been in difficult conversations about his future at the company.
For the past several years, SPT has been contributing more than 60% of SPE’s operating income, leading to SPE CEO Lynton’s announcement in 2013 that the company will make “a significant shift in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” Yet, television has not been represented in the leadership of SPE, which had been among the factors that contributed to a frosty relationship between Mosko and Lynton. The discord had been known, with Mosko periodically approached for high-profile jobs.
The Sony hacking scandal deepened the rift between Sony’s film and TV divisions as it exposed emails indicating that, despite television’s increasing importance and status as a cash cow, SPE, run by film executives, Lynton and Amy Pascal, had sometimes made major decisions that impact the television operation unilaterally, without conferring with TV executives. After last fall’s executive restructuring in the film group following Pascal’s exit, Mosko was given a title bump from president to chairman but that did not come with a bigger job.
A Sony Pictures Entertainment executive for more than two decades, Mosko oversaw global television production, distribution of feature film and television content, and the studio’s international networks available in 180 countries, reaching more than 1.3 billion cumulative households worldwide. His portfolio also includes SPE’s premium video streaming service Crackle, whose profile has been on the rise with original programming, and cable network GSN.
SPT is coming off a strong upfront season with several high-profile new series, including dramas Timeless, which landed the post-Voice Monday slot on NBC, and Notorious, slotted behind Grey’s Anatomy on ABC; as well as comedy Kevin Can Wait starring Kevin James on CBS, which will launch behind The Big Bang Theory before anchoring the Monday lineup at 8 PM.
Sony Pictures Television’s series portfolio also includes The Blacklist, The Goldbergs and Shark Tank on broadcast; cable series Masters Of Sex, Outlander and Preacher and Breaking Bad follow-up Better Call Saul; and original series for digital distribution including Bloodline and The Get Down for Netflix, and Powers for PlayStation. An independent studio with no affiliated network, SPT also produces syndication’s longtime top-rated game shows Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy!, and the top network daytime serials The Young And The Restless and Days Of Our Lives. Additionally, with 19 wholly-owned or joint-venture production companies outside the U.S., the studio is a leader in local-language production around the world.
SPT’s original programming efforts are being overseen by Mosko’s top lieutenants, presidents of programming and production Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg.
Mosko joined Sony Pictures Entertainment in 1992, and was named President of Sony Pictures TV in 2000.
In October 2001, Sony moved in to shut down its network production business and with syndication TV chief Mosko was tapped to head a stripped-down TV unit, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (renamed Sony Pictures TV in 2002), which consisted primarily of syndication/daytime and modest international operations.
It took awhile for Sony to get back in the network business. The studio took a different approach. Burned by the volume network business, Sony forged its way into the then-uncharted world of basic cable original programming with FX’s The Shield, which it distributed internationally, Rescue Me, Damages and Justified and AMC’s Breaking Bad. It gradually returned to network TV with modest hits such as Rules Of Engagement, Community and The Blacklist.
During his tenure, Mosko built the studio’s syndication business, overseeing first-run and off-network program sales in more than 200 markets and supervising efforts of regional offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.