Sony AXN scripts deal with Pinewood; buys stake in SVOD service Hopster

MUMBAI: Folks at Sony Pictures Television (SPT) are in a celebratory mood. Not only has it signed a six-series deal with Pinewood Television but has also acquired a minority stake in the London-based video subscription service for kids content - Hopster.

With its partnership with Pinewood, Sony plans to develop and produce shows for their English entertainment channel AXN. The channel will carry the resulting drama originals across Asia, Australasia, Europe and Latin America. Co-financed by the two ventures, the creative director Helen Gregory will lead the initiative. The drama deal was brokered by SPT Networks (SPTN) executive VP, programming and production, Marie Jacobson, and Pinewood Television director Peter Gerwe.

Jacobson said that they were looking for alternative paths to expand original series development, and Pinewood TV made for ideal partners. She said she was looking forward to developing projects that play both, in the UK and on our channels around the world.

As for their investment in the digital service, the financial details weren't disclosed. But, with this, Sony will become a strategic equity investor and take a seat on the company’s board. SPT Western Europe EVP Kate Marsh said that investing on this platform will offer an advantage to the entire network in this rapidly growing subscription led kids space. Additionally, this deal will also provide an opportunity to the network for its expansion in the on-demand services.

Hopster provides service for the preschool crowd at a cost of $4.99 per month and is available on iPad, Android and selects TV-connected devices. The company claims to have more than 800,000 users and aims to differentiate itself from the competition by offering videos, TV shows and interactive content. Kids can also use the app to play learning games and listen to nursery rhymes. The platform also makes it possible for parents to download shows for their kids for offline viewing.

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