New York --Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, is bullish on the future of the broadcasting business, and supports the current ecosystem of retrans compensation for networks.
"If more money is pouring into local stations, and the networks make money through cable, that's great for our business," he told the crowd at B&C/Multichannel News' OnScreen Media Summit here Thursday. "Because that means we're not solely dependent on ad revenues.
He added, "I'm a huge believer in the broadcasting business; it's where I started. I would hate to see local TV stations go away because they weren't able to share that pot."
That's not to say that things in the broadcasting business - and the studios like Sony that provide their programming -- haven't changed. Mosko noted that 10 years ago, Sony would produce 24 pilots a year, which is no longer the case.
There are a lot of studios that still do 24. For our studio it's hard to do 24 shows well," he said. "So when we changed our model somewhat, we basically said that we're going to do fewer shows better and do shows we really think can make it to series and make it to the four or fiveyears that we make money in syndication."
The trick, Mosko said, besides striking gold with a hit sitcom like Seinfeld, is to manage the entire cost of your business, know where to take big bets, and not throw money against bad ideas. It's a philosophy Mosko has applied at Sony to make fewer, better pilots.
"As you look at network shows, pilots are very expensive," he said. "If people are spending $5-10 million on pilots, if you go the cheap route, I can guarantee you that you spend $3 million in wasted money because when you put it against a $6 million pilot, you lose. If you're going to play the game, you've got to invest. But you've got to pick the right places to invest."
This fall Sony invested big on Pan Am, a very expensive pilot.
"It had to be, because we wanted it to look right," Mosko said. "We knew if we wanted it to be a big show, we had to spend the money."
While the future of the show is in jeopardy at ABC, who will bench the series at midseason, Mosko said it has sold well internationally, and that the international revenue for Pan Am is almost twice the network revenue.