Sony’s Tony Vinciquerra Skirts Paramount Global Talk, But Hints At It

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For nearly two weeks it’s been crickets when it comes to the push and pull between Skydance and Sony Pictures Entertainment/Apollo over Paramount Global.

However, making some noise during a Sony investor event tonight (tomorrow morning Tokyo time) was Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra. The chief executive presented business highlights and took some questions, as did the giant conglom’s other division heads.

Analysts didn’t ask about Sony’s desire for Paramount Global, nor did Vinciquerra spill any beans about the elephant in the room. But he did hint at something when asked on the call about investment strategy.

“We are looking for strategic investments … that complement our strategy. We are not going to go outside the strategy that has been enormously successful for us over the past several years,” he said. “We will not make investments that don’t complement our core strategy, and our strategy is to have more IP, more product, more library to sell. We’re not going to get into other businesses. We’re not going to get into a general entertainment streaming service. We’re not going to be operating other businesses that are outside the strategy that we have defined.”

That could be code for: Sony has not interest in streaming service Paramount+.

Sony and Paramount signed a non-disclosure agreement earlier this month, allowing them to start talks, although an initial $26-billion bid with Apollo for all of Par had been scaled down to a smaller transaction. A trimmed-down offer was likely due to regulatory concerns that would, in fact, have dogged a much bigger, more complicated transaction — and could still come into play if two more major studios try to merge.

The talks are not exclusive and Deadline hears David Ellison’s Skydance is still very much in the mix and trying to find a way forward with Paramount. A Skydance combination is very much the favorite in Hollywood, although disliked by Paramount shareholders.

Some sources feel there may be movement rather soon.

Par is holding its annual meeting of shareholders next Tuesday morning. While that’s not a venue for big corporate announcements, some stockholders may ask for an update. Par is in a transition, having pushed out its chief executive Bob Bakish and set up a new office of the CEO with three top executives.

Paramount Global, controlled by Shari Redstone  has been the center of deal speculation since last fall given its high debt and struggle to reach streaming profitability, and the fact that it’s the smallest of the major studios in a fiercely competitive landscape.

A majority of tonight’s conversation had Vinciquerra waving flags for Sony Entertainment’s TV and film businesses.

“Crunchyroll is going to be a primary driver of growth over the next few years,” he said about the studio’s anime division while also touting Crunchyroll’s 13M subscribers.

“We’re going to launch in India and Southeast Asia soon on Amazon channels,” said Vinciquerra who said the m.o. is to build up content for that region.

Asked about AI, he said a challenging studio business is always looking to save and will use the technology as it can to that end.

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