EnTech Fest: Sony’s Keith LeGoy Enjoys Being ‘Switzerland’ of Content

While other studios launched streaming services at the prodding of Wall Street, Sony Pictures Entertainment opted out.

“We had a huge decision to make — to stream or not to stream,” said Keith LeGoy, chairman, worldwide distribution and networks, during a keynote Feb. 7 at EnTech Fest, presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group in Los Angeles. “We zigged when everyone else zagged. And for a while, that felt like a pretty uncomfortable place to be.”

The feeling of being what pundits thought was “a dinosaur in a world of mammals” wouldn’t last, he predicted, as “we are going to find ourselves in a unique position, which is to be a sort of Switzerland of content.”

“We had iconic brands that were incredibly valuable to streaming,” he said, and staying out of the fray of branded streaming services was an advantage.

In fact, in part via a deal with Netflix, Sony’s content is thriving in the streaming marketplace.

“Our movies on Netflix do incredibly well for them,” he said. He also called out the Sony series “The Night Agent,” which has been a hit for Netflix.

LeGoy downplayed the disadvantages of not having direct-to-consumer contact. “We actually do get a lot of data from the partners that we work with,” he said.

While Sony doesn’t have a branded studio streamer, it does offer the genre-based anime service Crunchyroll, which has 13 million subscribers. LeGoy praised Crunchyroll’s ability to “superserve” that passionate audience. Moderator Gita Rebbapragada, the service’s chief operating officer, noted it is “trying to be everything to someone as opposed to everything to everyone.”

Meanwhile, Sony hasn’t abandoned the idea of distribution windows as new direct-to-consumer digital avenues opened up.

“We love windows. We think windows are great. We think windows are important,” he said. “We think it’s important for movies to get a strong theatrical release. We think it’s important to have a very strong home entertainment release. And we think both of those things amplify their value when they come to streaming.”

It’s about finding the right home for content and maximizing its audience and revenue, he said.

In addition to Crunchyroll, one of the growth areas for Sony and the industry is premium VOD, according to LeGoy.

“That’s a growing part of the business because it’s a new window,” he said.

One example of the importance of content is the burgeoning market for catalog, such as “Suits,” Rebbapragada noted. Catalog content is big on Crunchyroll, she said.

“I think library content has always played a role in our strategy,” LeGoy said, referencing the success of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” on Netflix.

With all the troubles in the world, there’s “also a bit of nostalgia at the moment,” he noted.

“I think that is driving an enormous desire to discover or rediscover things that were huge hits [in a simpler time],” he said, adding if consumers haven’t seen it it’s “new to them.”

For instance, the 1990s hit “Seinfeld,” which Sony owns, is still relevent, he said. “It is a timeless, classic show,” he said.

“We are optimists,” LeGoy said. “People love content. People love great content [wherever they get it].”

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Sony Pictures Combining Home Entertainment, TV, Theatrical Marketing; Wong Gets New Key Role

Sony Pictures Entertainment is combining marketing teams between theatrical, television and home entertainment distribution, with veteran home entertainment executive Lexine Wong assuming a new key role.

The reorganization, which precedes Sony’s fiscal results on Oct. 28, is expected to reduce staff by about 35 personnel. The studio cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in part for the changes, including the fact Sony is holding off releasing most major movies until 2021.

Under the management reshuffle, Keith Le Goy,  president of networks and distribution, and Josh Greenstein, president of the motion picture group, will jointly oversee studio marketing. Andre Caraco, co-president of global marketing, is exiting after 30 years at Sony.

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Wong, previously senior EVP of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, becomes head of global multichannel distribution marketing. She is one of three executives managing Sony’s new U.S. marketing group, along with Paul Noble and Danielle Misher, co-heads of global theatrical marketing. All three report into Greenstein and Le Goy.

Josh Greenstein and Keith Le Goy

Additional flow chart changes have Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution for North America television and home entertainment; Flory Bramnick, EVP of distribution for North America television and ad sales; Adrian Smith, president, domestic distribution for theatrical; Paul Littmann, EVP of distribution for global; Jamie Stevens, EVP of worldwide consumer products; and Jeffrey Godsick, EVP of brand strategy and global partnerships, all reporting to Le Goy and Greenstein.

Because of the coronavirus-induced closure of movie theaters, Sony Pictures has pushed most of its big movies into 2021, including Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The studio’s next big wide release is Monster Hunter, scheduled to open in theaters on Dec. 30.


Sony Shuttering Crackle Latin America

Sony Pictures Television is shutting down Crackle Latin America, the subscription streaming video service launched in 2016. The service with 400,000 subscribers – across 17 countries – will cease operations on April 30.

Sony has operated Crackle as an ad-supported service in the United States since 2012, and recently upped original content offerings such as crime drama “The Oath.”

Keith Le Goy, president of worldwide TV distribution and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, announced the move in a memo to staff, which was obtained by Hollywood trades.

“After much consideration, we have decided that Crackle Latin America is not sustainable in the present highly competitive local environment,” wrote Le Goy. “Crackle Latin America is not sustainable in the present highly competitive local environment.”

Sony shuttered Crackle Canada last June.

The move is another shot across the bow for smaller SVOD services attempting to challenge Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

“OTT/direct-to-consumer remains an incredibly important area for our evolving industry, and we will persist in exploring other opportunities in the space,” wrote Le Goy. “The decision to close Crackle Latin America is unrelated to the U.S. Crackle business, which is operated independently as an AVOD service. We continue to explore potential strategic partnerships for Crackle in the U.S. and will share more information when possible.” 






Keith Le Goy to Take Over Home Entertainment at Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has a new leader, Keith Le Goy.

Le Goy, president of distribution for Sony Pictures Television, has been put in charge of the home entertainment unit, replacing Man Jit Singh, who is out after four years as the business unit’s president.

Singh is one of three president-level executives to leave Sony as part of a restructuring aimed at streamlining the studio’s management.

Also out are Andy Kaplan, president of worldwide networks for Sony Pictures Television, and Sheraton Kalouria, chief marketing officer for Sony Pictures Television.

Sony Pictures TV chairman Mike Hopkins (former head of Hulu) has taken charge of the international channels group.

Le Goy will report to both Hopkins and Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman.

In an internal memo, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra wrote, “I am pleased to announce that Keith Le Goy, our president of distribution for Sony Pictures Television, will be expanding his oversight to also include Home Entertainment.  Keith has been with SPE for over 18 years and has expertly managed distribution of Sony Pictures’ film, television and other content to all media platforms — from broadcast, satellite, and cable, to digital and electronic delivery, including video-on-demand, subscription-video-on-demand, electronic sell-through, and mobile.

“The expansion of Keith’s oversight is not only recognition of his leadership strength and success in this space, but also of the changing landscape of the home entertainment sector, which continues to shift from physical to digital, and increasingly to markets around the world.  Keith’s global experience is unmatched in our industry and he is the perfect fit to reorient our home entertainment business to align with the realities of today’s marketplace.  Keith will now have a dual report. He will continue to report to Mike Hopkins, our new SPT Chairman, for SPT distribution, and to Tom Rothman, chairman of our motion picture group, on MPG home entertainment business.

“With this move, Man Jit Singh will be stepping down as president of SPE Home Entertainment.  I want to thank Man Jit for guiding our home entertainment business through years of unprecedented change, and in helping to build our robust networks business in India, where he once served as CEO of Sony Pictures Networks India.  His efforts in India have contributed immeasurably to SPE’s current strength in that fast-growing market.”

In the memo, Vinciquerra wrote that the changes “represent a significant restructuring of some traditional business models and processes that have been in place at the studio for years.  Our decision to rethink the way we operate these units was driven by our goals to streamline SPE’s business operations, making them nimbler and better aligned with a rapidly-evolving industry.”

A few days earlier, Sony Pictures Entertainment parent Sony Corporation announced the April 1 departure of CEO Kazuo Hirai, who is being replaced by Sony CFO Kenichiro Yoshida.

Singh was hired by Sony Pictures Entertainment in January 2014 as a replacement for longtime home entertainment chief David Bishop.

Singh previously was CEO of Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd., the operating company that manages Sony Pictures Television’s TV networks in India.

Bishop had led Sony Pictures Home Entertainment since 2006.

At the time, Singh said in a statement, “As the ways in which consumers experience our content continue to change and multiply, our organization and its strategy for delivering content must evolve to meet the demands of the market. I look forward to building on the foundation of innovation and operational discipline at [Sony Pictures Home Entertainment] to position this business for future growth.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Feb. 2 reported third-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2017) revenue of $331 million, which was up $3 million from revenue of $328 million during the previous-year period. Through nine months of the fiscal year, revenue topped $692 million compared to $764 million during the previous-year period.