TV channels of the American Sony Pictures Television stop broadcasting in the CIS. Their distribution in Russia was managed by the National Media Group (NMG), which will launch three new channels for pay TV networks with content from the same Sony Pictures and other majors. Sony could leave Russia due to the low profitability of the business and the trend towards the transition of the audience to the Internet, experts say.
Sources of Kommersant on the pay TV market told that the TV channels Sony Channel, Sony Turbo and Sony Sci-Fi are leaving Russia, Ukraine and Belarus by the decision of their copyright holder, American Sonu Pictures Television. In Russia, the channel distribution partner was NMG, which owned 80% of the Sony Pictures Television business in the country. Sony Pictures Television declined to comment. An NMG representative told Kommersant that the group is “rebranding” and will launch the .Red, .Black and .Sci-Fi channels in June.
As specified in NMG, the distributor will be Media-Telecom (JV NMG and Rostelecom), it will also deal with content. The new channels will continue to broadcast on Pay TV operators’ networks and will be mainly filled with content from the same Sony Pictures, serials and content from other majors will be added to it – Paramount, BBC, Universal, Disney, Freemantle, MGM. The rebranding will not affect the concept of the channels, added to NMG.
Sony Pictures Television has been broadcasting in Russia since 2008. Sony Channel shows series and shows focused on women, Sony Turbo – on men, Sony Sci-Fi – fiction and mysticism.
Since 2015, the law has banned foreigners from owning more than 20% in Russian media companies. It was then that Universal Networks International, copyright holder of Universal Channel and E! Entertainment Television in Russia stopped working in the country, leaving the distribution business in the country. Sony Pictures had to find a partner. At first, media manager Vladimir Khanumyan received 80% of its television business in the Russian Federation, then in 2018, NMG acquired his share in the PCT-I Networks Vostok LLC, which managed the channels.
After the deal with NMG, the channels were able to sell ads, having received the necessary broadcast frequencies (since 2015, another law has limited its sale on non-terrestrial channels if the share of national content on them is less than 75%). NMG eventually collected the largest package of Pay TV channels, becoming a partner of Discovery, Turner, Viasat, Fox and Viacom.
According to Mediascope, Sony channels were not among the largest in terms of audience in the segment of film serials, where the leaders were the domestic Dom Kino (part of Channel One. World Wide Web), Russian Roman and Mosfilm. Golden Collection ”(part of CTV, VGTRK and Rostelecom). From January to the end of May, for audiences over four years old, Sony Channel ranked 28th in the Movies and TV Shows category, Sony Sci-Fi ranked 35th, and Sony Turbo ranked 42nd.
Sony channels have regularly experimented with Russian content, but in recent years they have broadcast mostly their own – serials, shows about fashion and food, says Yana Belskaya, editor-in-chief of Kabelshchik. She does not consider the departure of SPT from Russia a great loss for NMG, the competition in the market for film serial channels is very high, there are several dozen of them, the group itself controls the distribution of Fox, Viasat and Russian-Ukrainian Star Media.
Globally, Sony Pictures Entertainment is reorganizing its business by merging its film and TV divisions. Perhaps this is related to the revision of Russian business, says one of the sources of Kommersant. Ms Belskaya believes that Sony “has realized the low profitability and high volatility of this business in our region, and most importantly, that it is movies and TV shows that will be the first to completely go to OTT, video over the Internet.”