In the burgeoning mobile and digital marketplaces, many large media companies go out of their way to preserve the status quo. But as Sony Pictures Television's Eric Berger knows, television networks and studios should be rushing to embrace the technology, not running away from it.
Berger cut his new-media chops at Time Warner, where he was responsible for the company's wireless and digital growth businesses. He also worked on developing its mobile gaming publishing and VOD network strategies.
Growing the gaming group
Berger first joined Sony Pictures Television in 2006, as its VP of mobile entertainment. His first order of business was growing Sony's mobile gaming group.
“They were trying to find their way in the marketplace,” he recalls. “I took it from being the No. 17 publisher in the market to the No. 5 publisher in the market.”
Berger has also been widening the boundaries of mobile entertainment by adding more longform content, as well as developing new revenue streams.
“There is a notion in the marketplace that short-form content on mobile was the way to go,” Berger points out. “We have always been big believers that there is a place for longform.” To that end, Sony has launched a pay-per-view mobile service in addition to a subscription-based service for longform content.
In November 2008, Berger took Crackle.com, Sony's fast-growing Web video site, under his wing. “We view Crackle as the next-generation TV network, how you would launch a TV network today,” he says.
Crackle spans multiple platforms, and its content does, too. Sony has been experimenting with windowing—having some shows premiere on the site before sending them across the Web and beyond. Angel of Death debuted as a short-form original program on Crackle, with a 90-minute Spike TV special and DVD release slated for July.
“All these windows on the back end create more value for the property, for Sony Pictures Television and Crackle,” Berger says.
The strategy appears to be working. Crackle continues to grow and gain traction among viewers and advertisers.
Berger says that this kind of recognition is its own reward. As he puts it: “Being able to create what we believe to be a very important asset for Sony Pictures is extremely satisfying.”—Alex Weprin