With the proliferation of outlets, which now includes OTT services like Netflix, not being affiliated with a television network is no longer a curse for independent studios like Steve Mosko’s Sony Pictures Television.
Sony’s Mosko: No Network, No Handicap
Sony Pictures Television has always been thought to be at a disadvantage among its Hollywood peers because it didn’t have a major network in the corporate family to guarantee distribution of its shows.
But with the proliferation of outlets, which now includes OTT services like Netflix, independence is no longer a curse, said Sony Pictures Television Chairman Steve Mosko under question from TV writer Bill Carter at the opening session of the NAB-backed CCW conference in New York Wednesday.
“A couple of years ago we kind of turned the corner and people said, wow, not having a network isn’t the worst thing.”
Today, the studio has 35 shows on 18 different networks, he said.
Since Sony works with all media, Mosko was careful not to say one is better than another. “They are just all different.” However, he added, having a hit on a broadcast network “is still fantastic.”
The downside of broadcast primetime is that the networks have no patience, he said. They are “selling advertising and they need to know that people are going to watch.”
“It’s like the opening of a movie. You have to get big ratings; it’s got to be huge, right?”
Sony’s The Player with Wesley Snipes debuted this season on NBC in one of the toughest time slots in television — Thursday night, he said. But the early ratings were weak and the show was soon “on the bubble,” he said.
Basic cable is a different dynamic, he said. “You are somewhere where there is less attention to that opening night…. When people said to me that Better Call Saul started a little slow [on AMC], I said, no, it started perfectly because what [creator Vince Gilligan] is doing is weaving a story and bringing you back into the character, and we know we have two years to tell the story — at least.”
Under questioning by Carter, Mosko conceded that cutting a deal with a network often involves giving up a piece of a show’s equity. “Every deal we do is different, he said. “We figure out a way … to make it a business.”
While being independent is a good business, he said, it is harder. “It takes a certain person that’s more entrepreneurial to work in that type of company.”
To see all of TVNewsCheck’s CCW 2015 coverage, click here.