Sony, Netflix team up for original series

Sony Pictures Television will become the first prominent Hollywood studio to produce a new show specifically for Netflix.

By Benzinga Oct 15, 2013 10:58AM

BNetflix login screen (© Mike Blake/Newscom/Reuters)y Louis Bedigian


Sony (SNE) is investing heavily in digital distribution, bypassing traditional TV networks like CBS (CBS) and Disney's (DIS) ABC in favor of a new agreement with Netflix (NFLX).


According to The Wall Street Journal, Sony Pictures Television will become the first prominent Hollywood studio to produce a new show specifically for Netflix.


Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler and Todd A. Kessler -- the trio who created and produced Damages for FX -- will produce Sony's new series, which is expected to be a psychological thriller. The show will go into production in early 2014.


This deal does not mean that Sony will produce all future programs for Netflix. One of its biggest hits, the recently retired Breaking Bad, aired on AMC (AMCX). The studio's latest hit, The Blacklist, currently airs on Comcast's (CMCSA) TV network, NBC.


Even so, the Netflix deal could provide clues as to where things are headed for Sony.

Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, told The Wall Street Journal that the studio is "willing to do different things and bet on the future."


"We're pumped up -- it's a challenge to show a major studio can be in business with one of these services," he said.


Mosko is right -- it is a challenge. Not even Disney, Comcast and News Corp. (NWS) -- the owners of Hulu -- have been willing to put their resources into building a great original show for online distribution. That's not to say that Hulu is without great programming. But almost all of its shows come from network TV (locally or globally). The rest were made by small production studios.


Netflix, on the other hand, has slowly amassed a collection of notable exclusives, including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and a new season of Arrested Development. Now the studio has inked a deal with Sony, its biggest partner yet.


"We were spellbound after hearing Todd, Glenn and Daniel's pitch, and knew Netflix was the perfect home for this suspenseful family drama that is going to have viewers on the edge of their seats," Cindy Holland, VP of original content for Netflix, said in a company release. "Their work on 'Damages' was truly ahead of its time and we're proud to be bringing our viewers this upcoming series."


All 13 episodes of the new, unnamed series will be available exclusively to all Netflix subscribers in all territories.


Sony has not announced when the new series will debut, but if its production schedule is any indication, it should arrive in the latter half of 2014.


Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.


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