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Where is Sony in the Streaming Wars?

Jeff Kotuby

As more film studios and streaming services partner up to deliver better experiences than the competition, one notable name seems to be perfectly content sitting it out — Sony.

Late last week, The Wall Street Journal profiled Sony and its current stance on the streaming industry. Rather than jump into the fray with “Sony+” or something of the sort, it has instead provided different streaming platforms with content, akin to a “content arms dealer” of sorts. “None of them can deal with each other, but all of them can deal with us,” said Tom Rothman, chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, adding that his company’s future will be well served by selling to rivals. “It’s certainly been a zigging-where-everyone-zags strategy. It’s proved very lucrative for us.”

Recently, Sony struck a deal with Amazon’s IMDb TV to stream Norman Lear series like All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons. Earlier this year, Sony and Netflix struck a deal that would see Sony’s films come exclusively to the platform. The deal also may include future Netflix projects based on Sony properties, including video games. Sony is also tied to Disney thanks to Spider-Man, so we could eventually see Sony products on Hulu and Disney+, too.

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Sony tried streaming content with its platform Crackle, a contemporary to Netflix’s online streaming service. it never took off, thanks in part to Sony’s lack of focus and investment into the platform, and it recently unloaded Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Sony’s past could play into its current hesitance to start another streaming service, even though it would certainly have the content to thrive. If Sony simply combined its existing Marvel IPs with content set around its popular Sony Interactive Entertainment IPs, like God of War, The Last of Us, Ratchet & Clank, and Uncharted, they could be a formidable foe in the streaming industry. Last of Us and Uncharted already have existing projects around them, but imagine how awesome a full-fledged God of War series would be? Seems like a missed opportunity.

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For now, though Sony looks to be perfectly fine with providing a show here and a movie here while its contemporaries do all the fighting.

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