Sony CEO: Entertainment Is “Crucial” To Company

CEO Kazuo Hirai just gave his movie, TV, and music enterprises a strong endorsement as he kicked off the company’s long-awaited investor briefing about the businesses. “I know that the whole of Sony is greater than the sum of its parts,” he says calling entertainment “a core part of Sony” that is “crucial to our future growth.” He says Sony has had 89 No. 1 movies since 2000, 38 TV series produced in the U.S. this year, 1,500 music artists, and is the No. 1 music publisher. But the picture segment generated a loss in the most recent quarter, and “some movies just didn’t perform as we had estimated” adding that the operation “must get better.”  He said that the unit will become more profitable and will revamp the process of greenlighting films. Strategic priorities for entertainment include investing in “fast growing and high margin businesses,” building existing libraries, creating “compelling new franchises,” accelerating collaboration across all of Sony’s businesses, and “rigorous cost management.” Today’s meeting follows up on a promise that Hirai made to Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb: After rejecting the hedge fund owner’s proposal to create a new stock for entertainment and sell a minority stake to the public, Hirai said that he would ”increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses. We agree this can help market participants analyze their performance and monitor their success.” Loeb stung the company over the summer, charging that Sony “has plenty of reasons to worry about Entertainment”, which he said generated lower profit margins than its competitors. Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.

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