Sony Entertainment CEO Lynton Says Netflix, DVR Change The Way People Watch TV

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Today at the D: Dive Into Media conference, Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corporation of America and Sony Entertainment, said that the rise of Netflix and DVRs are fundamentally changing the way that viewers watch TV content. And that now changes the type of content that is being produced and the quality of it.

The bigger paradigm shift here is the idea that consumers are getting used to binge-watching TV shows. And that, in turn, is changing the quality of content that is being produced… for the better. Lynton said that the rise of episodic TV — whether it be driven by cable shows like Mad Men or Sons of Anarchy, or by Netflix’s House of Cards — is accompanied by the idea that show runners no longer need to wrap things up neatly at the end of each episode.

The increase in episodic TV is also luring higher-quality actors, writers, and directors. Rather than trying to squeeze everything into an hour or two of TV, creators can now create longer-form, open-ended serialized dramas. “It’s one of the reasons you’re seeing explosion in creativity right now,” Lynton said.

Sony just re-upped its deal with Starz, but Lynton said that Netflix was definitely a player in the bidding for that deal. “They wanted to be a part of [the deal], and still want to get studios on the service,” he said. While the studio deal didn’t work out, Netflix still spends substantial money on licensing TV content, including some from Sony’s production studio.

“Netflix has always been a really good customer, and they continue to be a better and better customer,” Lynton said. That Netflix is providing a new revenue stream for TV studios, as well as changing the way people watch TV content, is helping to change the creative landscape for Sony and others.