The first major media shakeup of 2020 has been lit with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) announcing that it would be offloading its key Southeast Asian television properties AXN Asia, ANIMAX Asia, and ONE to a group led by its former executives.
According to international trade publications Variety and Television Business International (TBI), the media conglomerate has sold the three channels to KC Global Media, a group led by Former Sony Pictures Television executives Andy Kaplan and George Chien.
It’s not yet clear if GEM, which is the media conglomerate’s Japanese-oriented drama and variety channel in partnership with Nippon TV, is included in the said deal.
Kaplan served as President of Sony Pictures Entertainment Worldwide TV Networks for 16 years starting 2002 until he left in 2018, while Chien was the former Executive Vice President of SPT Media Networks and EVP of its Asia Networks division.
“We strongly believe in the global channel and content model, which has the potential for tremendous growth,” Kaplan says, adding that “Traditional television continues to offer many opportunities and advantages. Our goal is to fully maximize all of them, building a footprint with these channels and laying the foundation for a beautiful future.”
“These popular channel brands were all born in Asia and went on to enjoy great success around the world by providing the best English-language movies and TV shows from Hollywood, Japanese anime, Korean drama, K-Pop, variety and general entertainment – genres that command a healthy share of pay channel revenue in the region.” Chien seconded.
The move sees Sony shifting its strategy from owning networks to becoming a mostly content provider under the aegis of Sony Pictures Chairman Tony Vinciquerra, adding that its executives has pinpointed that its Southeast Asia group of channels are the ones that are ready to be sold.
The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, as well as who is financially backing KC Global Media apart from Kaplan and Chien.
AXN was launched in 1997 by SPT Asia and was positioned to be the main destination for action-themed shows, but eventually evolved as its general entertainment channel. The channel also aired anime shows in its early years like Fushigi Yuugi, Cooking Master Boy, Ayashi no Ceres and Samurai X.
ANIMAX Asia, meanwhile, was launched by SPT Asia in January 2004 and was the first television channel in Asia solely dedicated to Japanese Anime programming.
ONE was launched in 2010 in partnership with Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), it primarily airs Korean drama shows, variety programs and live events.