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How television is evolving: Q&A with Eric Berger, Sony Pictures Television

Blog post   •   Feb 15, 2013 10:42 GMT

Eric Berger from Sony Pictures Television explains how connected devices and original programming in the digital space is revolutionising television

Eric is the executive vice president of digital networks at Sony Pictures Television (SPT). In this position, he supervises Crackle, the studio's multi-platform video entertainment network. Prior to this, he guided SPT's mobile games division from 17th to 5th place in the market. Ahead of the Changing Media Summit, he talks to us about the future of TV.

What apps can you not live without?

Besides the Crackle app of course, I find I'm almost daily using IMDB and Yelp for discovery, Instagram for escape, and right now I'm addicted to the game Hundreds.

What are your hopes and fears for 2013?

My hope for 2013 is that we see greater migration of TV everywhere; applications and consumer adoption. Fears would be that measurement in the connected TV space takes longer than expected.

How would you describe the digital journey of Sony Pictures Television (SPT)?

We're actively preparing our networks to participate in the digital market in conjunction with our cable and satellite partners through TV everywhere services. At the same time, we're growing Crackle, our pure over-the-top (OTT) network, globally.

How important is original online programming for Crackle?

Very. We look at Crackle like a network, and our originals speak to our programming target demographic and programming voice. They are integral to defining our brand. They sit side-by-side with our movies and television shows so they need to be at a quality level that consumers have come to expect from a company like ours.

Which platforms are of growing importance for SPT?

In addition to online and mobile phones and tablets, we see the growth of game consoles and connected TVs as being extremely important. People will migrate to the largest screen they have access to at the time, and the living room is becoming a great place to watch OTT services alone or in a group setting.

What is your view of Social TV and second-screen viewing?

Social activity while viewing is real and will take place largely on existing social platforms; however, we're big on second screen applications synced to the programme if the project lends itself to this medium. For example, shows with deep mythology or character details can have the overall content and consumer experience enhanced with additional information.

What in the television sector is exciting you most at the moment?

The increased volume of original content productions being developed for the digital market is exciting. Demand is shifting toward more premium, full-length experiences from services that otherwise offer movies and TV shows. We're seeing an influx of talent from both behind and in front of the camera, like Jerry Seinfeld.

Finally – what will be your message to the industry at the Changing Media Summit 2013?

The very definition of television is changing. Free-to-air, pay TV and digital OTT networks are all finding themselves side by side on Smart TVs, game consoles, tablets and other connected devices. There is more opportunity than ever for the consumer to have great content experiences wherever and whenever, including an influx of original series developed just for the digital space. It's up to all of us to embrace the evolution taking place as it has the opportunity to enhance our current businesses as well as build new ones.

Eric Berger is executive vice president, digital networks at Sony Pictures Television

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