Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Read this article for free.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Q&A
Media

Why TV Companies Need To Become Tech Companies

Three thousand miles separate Silicon Valley from the headquarters of the major TV companies. But it may as well be three million miles, such are the differences in history, business model and outlook between the tech companies behind YouTube and Netflix, on one hand, and TV networks on the other.

One company that doesn't quite fit in either camp is Sony Pictures, the Hollywood unit of the Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony Corp. While it produces and distributes series for mainstream networks—“The Blacklist” for NBC and “Breaking Bad” for AMC, for example—Sony doesn't own any major TV networks of its own in the U.S.

That undoubtedly made it a little easier for Sony to launch Crackle, a free online video service, seven years ago. Over time, the outlet has gradually gotten some traction with movies, TV shows and some originals, such as Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” Sony says Crackle draws 12 million unique visitors in the U.S. a month, still well short of Netflix’s 36 million U.S. subscribers.

Today, mainstream networks are creeping toward the over-the-top world, with HBO and CBS announcing standalone streaming services. Still, according to Crackle’s general manager, Eric Berger, the industry needs to do more. At a recent TV conference in New York, the Sony Pictures Television executive vice president called on TV companies to “become technology companies,” investing in Silicon Valley engineering talent and rethinking everything from marketing to scheduling decisions.

Mr. Berger has overseen Crackle since 2008, and since 2011 the digital operations for the company’s 120 TV networks around the world. Prior to joining Sony in 2006, he was a strategic planning executive with Time Warner. He talked with The Information about changes in television. Edited excerpts below.

What Is The Information?

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting, stories, and exclusives you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Go deep into areas like crypto and VC diversity—or get real-time analysis of breaking news—via conference calls with our reporters and other experts.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, subscribers get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

Access the best reporting on the tech industry read by tens of thousands of global executives.

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Share with your team

Subscribers can unlock any article and share it with friends and co-workers through a special share link.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles

Asia Entertainment

Does Tencent Music Deserve a Spotify-Like Valuation?

By Alfred Lee and Wayne Ma

Amazon Entertainment

Amazon Plans New Video App, Latest Step Into TV Ad Market

By Jessica Toonkel and Tom Dotan

Media Telecom

AT&T’s Plans for Changing TV

By Martin Peers and Tom Dotan

Media Entertainment

At Netflix, Speed is Key

By Beejoli Shah