MIPCOM: Sony CEO Says "There's More Good Television Programming Than Ever Before"

The Hollywood Reporter

Don't tell Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai that "Peak TV" means the golden age of the medium is close to ending.

"There's more good television programming than ever before in history," the Japanese entertainment and electronics conglomerate's boss on Monday told the MIPCOM audience in Cannes during his opening keynote address.

But consumer viewing habits are rapidly changing, Hirai conceded, leading Sony Corp. to unleash what he called "Kando," or a wow factor that has the power to stimulate an emotional response in audiences to content.

"'Kando' means emotional involvement and moving people emotionally. We are always thinking about not only what we can do, or how to create it, but why? Will our efforts make your life better, more meaningful?" Hirai said in his keynote about meeting audience demand.

Delivering meaningful customer experiences touted by Hirai is crucial to Sony as it continues to compete with digital rivals like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, whose platforms allow them to interact with their own customers daily. Changing consumer habits also mean content makers and distributors need to be flexible and strategic in how they meet audience demand across a range of platforms.

"Matching the right product with the right program for buyers, there's growing demand for must-have content among larger channels who command premium pricing, and more niche channels with loyal followers seeking a more modest pricing model for only the content they want," said the exec.

"While emerging markets seek more Hollywood product, there's also a desire to take a more tailored approach to network programming as well," added Hirai. In an increasingly competitive and complex entertainment business, the Sony Corp. topper pointed to kando as a key to helping deliver to consumers what they want and need.

That includes Ang Lee's latest movie, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which was shot in groundbreaking 4K, 3D and 120 fps. That high frame rate, Hirai argued, promises a hyper-real immersive experience for moviegoers.

"He [Lee] is experimenting with a new visual language for storytelling, and that's what I call Kando," Hirai told the MIPCOM audience. Also in Sony's Kando arsenal is PlayStation VR, the electronics conglomerate's challenge to Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

"We are able to provide an entirely new gaming experience and pay attention to audience reaction, and we intend to respond with content beyond gaming," said Hirai. Here Sony has created VR extensions of Sony Pictures content like The Walk, Ghostbusters and Goosebumps.

Hirai also touted Sony Electronics' 4K Ultra HDR TV sets to help revolutionize the television viewing experience. "HDR contains a 100 times wider dynamic range of colors and brightness than the current TV broadcast standards. This is screen quality closer than ever to what the human eye can see," he said.

And that viewer experience is promised for TV series from Sony like Breaking Bad, spinoff Better Call Saul and The Blacklist.

Read more: Sony Corp. CEO: Film Studio Shake-up Will Take "Two to Three Years to Produce Results"