M&E Exclusive

Sony makes shuffles at the top and in home entertainment

A series of executive moves at Sony make some clear statements about how the company expects to revive its reputation as a technology leader and how it expects to play the game in home entertainment in the years ahead.

The big news, of course, is that Sir Howard Stringer is stepping down and taking the title as Chairman while the operation of the electronics and entertainment giant is now in the hands of the exec who built the division that has the most hope of competing with Apple in the years ahead — the Playstation group.

Predicting a fourth consecutive year of losses, the company named Kazuo Hirai as chief executive officer.  It puts a content executive in charge of both the company’s hardware and software divisions and, most importantly, puts someone with experience running an online entertainment network in charge of the company’s vital (but money losing) television division in an era of connected television.

“The path we must take is clear — to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses,” Hirai said in the statement.

For anyone who wants a taste of how the new Sony chief thinks visit the website for the Wall St. Journal’s AsiaD conference, which took place in Hong Kong last October, and where Hirai spoke.  Click here for the video

In the meantime, there were serious rumblings in Hollywood within the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment executive suites, that revealed further consolidation of international market control within the Culver City compound.

Variety reported that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has named Matt Brown executive VP of worldwide commercial as part of a restructuring. Brown, who was previously exec VP of North America and international, will report to SPHE Worldwide president David Bishop.

In addition, John McMahon, who has served in a number of roles across Sony Pictures’ European operations, will leave the company at the end of March.

“John’s deep understanding of the European markets and strategic contributions to our corporate, television and home entertainment operations have played a significant role in building the successful organization we have in place there today,” said Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Brown will also now work closely with Aodan Coburn, executive VP of worldwide operations and licensing, in managing the Latin America and Asia Pacific regions as well as emerging markets.

Coburn’s expanded responsibilities come in addition to his current efforts on global licensing and supply chain. He will report to Brown on all commercial matters, and he’ll continue reporting to Bishop for operations and supply chain.

“Creating a single, global commercial enterprise that is both focused and nimble is a timely and strategic response to the challenges of an evolving business environment,” Bishop said. “Additionally, this places our commercial initiatives in line with those of our other departments — marketing, digital and operations — which are all worldwide in scope. With a unified commercial network under Matt’s leadership and with support from Aodan, I am confident that our European team — and SPHE as a whole — will continue to thrive.”