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Sony, Universal to Form Joint Aussie Home Entertainment Unit

6 Sep, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Unnamed operations underscore impact of declining physical disc sales

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures International Entertainment will combine operations in Australia in 2012 for the distribution of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

The unnamed joint venture, which was announced Sept. 6 by Eddie Cunningham, president of UPIE, and Matt Brown, EVP, international for SPHE, must still meet antitrust guidelines in Australia.

The new unit will be headed by Jim Bachelor, who currently is managing director for Universal Pictures Australia and New Zealand.

Kim Overall, managing director, Australia & New Zealand, for SPHE since 2008, will transition to a senior position with SPHE early next year, and will continue to maintain a key advisory role in the new venture following its commercial launch.

In a joint statement, the studios said the partnership in Australia provides a strong infrastructure for growth in this evolving marketplace.

"Our proposed joint venture, with its outstanding pool of talent and resources, allows us to create synergies that better serve our Australian customers and bring consumers an extensive range of world-class DVD and Blu-ray products. We will provide further information as it becomes available," the studios said.

The merger underscores continued efforts by major studios to streamline home entertainment operations as physical disc sales erode, particularly in the United States, where disc sales are under pressure from a renaissance in budget rentals, subscription video-on-demand, and, to a lesser extent, transactional VOD.

Both Universal Pictures Australia and SPHE acquisitions teams will maintain separate, dedicated teams, including sales and marketing, within the joint venture. The joint venture agreement does not include New Zealand, where both Universal and SPHE’s existing standalone operating companies continue to trade.  

“In this incredibly important territory, the best of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal’s talent will combine to form a first rate operation, providing improved efficiencies for our customers and offering consumers an extensive range of world-class home entertainment product,” Cunningham said in a statement

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