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Sony Will Likely Absorb MGM Home Entertainment Division

18 Mar, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

As the April 1 target date looms for Sony and MGM to complete their merger, employees of MGM Home Entertainment are sending out resumes and putting out feelers as it becomes increasingly clear Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will absorb the division.

No one's talking on the record, but insiders say most MGM positions will be eliminated, with Sony picking up some MGM staffers in marketing and sales. Several MGM executives have reportedly been interviewed for positions at Sony.

Sony will retain the MGM brand, at least for the time being, but MGM titles now in the pipeline — including The Amityville Horror Collection, streeting April 5 — will be handled by Sony after the merger is finalized.

Until April 1, however, one MGM executive said, “It really is business as usual — we're proceeding as though nothing's happening. We're not supposed to even talk to anyone over there until the merger is finalized.”

Insiders had expected a larger contingent of MGM Home Entertainment staffers to remain on board, noting that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a sales-oriented organization focused on new releases, with a small library of movies. MGM, in turn, is known for its marketing of catalog titles. The company has one of the biggest libraries in Hollywood, consisting of more than 4,000 titles, and has been aggressively marketing them on DVD since the format's inception.

Indeed, MGM Home Entertainment president David Bishop has been nicknamed the “king of catalog” for his aggressive campaign to bring MGM titles to market at affordable prices that make them appealing to both consumers and to the all-important mass merchants that like to use DVDs to drive customers to their stores.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president Ben Feingold, meanwhile, is known for his industry leadership, having been a pioneer in the sellthrough market, the development and launch of DVD, and brand marketing. He also is the industry's key point person for the Blu-ray Disc camp.

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