During the streaming boom, Sony was one of the few big entertainment companies that held back from creating its own platform. And now that the market is experiencing a cooling-off period, Ravi Ahuja, chairman of Sony’s Global Television Studios, is seeing this as an immense advantage.
During a keynote at Content London on Wednesday, Ahuja said that what drew him to Sony in the first place was because while working at Disney and Fox, he “saw firsthand the complexity of operating in that kind of environment.”
“Here, it’s not only a very large, independent studio, with the benefit of a lot of resources … but with a very focused mission: make great shows, find the right home,” Ahuja said. “That’s it. It’s not overly complicated by trying to satisfy platform demands, trying to balance different things.”
Now that the strikes are over, Ahuja said that “things are getting back to normal” in the production world. “But it doesn’t feel normal, because it’s a mad scramble to get it all going again,” he added. “This is an interesting inflection point in our industry with COVID, labor issues, streaming resets… so many things happening. It’s a new normal.”
Ahuja said that the market had reached a point where it was “too hot,” and is now in a “cooling off period.”
“In terms of overall deals in the United States and investment in shows … There was a tremendous amount of inefficiencies,” he said. “Deals that didn’t make sense, but also production processes that became really wacky, TV started to look like film, projects were brought out when they weren’t really ready. So a lot of problems. I think now as the industry cools a little bit from that very hot pace, I think there are a lot of opportunities to bring some efficiencies in. So that the consumer, the viewer still is able to get a nice robust slate of shows, but the streaming services can ration their resources a little bit better.”
As for what streaming may look like in the future, Ahuja predicted that tech companies will start to consolidate different services.
“At the end of this decade, I don’t think there’ll be subscribers subscribing to individual platforms, and a la carte assemble your television experience,” he said. “I think the big tech platforms will start to consolidate that — YouTube, Apple, Google — and you’ll get five services for 50 pounds. And you’ll have, potentially, a single interface.”