GSN has had a long history with a number of mergers and acquisitions. Originally GSN was only a cable channel started in 1992. In 2006, Worldwinner—a platform to play skill-based games online for real cash payouts—was acquired by Fun Technologies and merged with Skilljam, a skill-based gaming company similar to Worldwinner. In 2001, Liberty Media bought 50% of GSN and in 2007 bought Fun Technologies and merged those assets into GSN. At this point GSN was partly owned by Sony and partly owned by Liberty. The Liberty portion of GSN was transferred to Liberty-owned DirectTV which was later acquired by AT&T. At this point GSN became an asset owned by AT&T and Sony and was under the active management of Sony Pictures Television.

For the last few years, GSN has remained a joint venture of Sony and AT&T, though Sony was the active manager of the channel and its online game assets. GSN continued to grow its digital gaming assets and eventually those became a significant part of the total company, plus its cable TV channel. GSN had become both a TV-centric channel, as well as a major player in the skill-based, casual and social casino online game genres.

And now the merger and acquisition maelstrom that combined various digital gaming assets with GSN has been entirely consolidated under Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. This gives Sony a big chance to build its cable channel (or use the “shelf space” for other programming) as well the opportunity to build as its already large digital game division, mostly on mobile devices. As the mobile gaming business in the U.S. reaches double digit billions of dollars of revenue, this is a big opportunity for Sony to build a major, profitable business in the more casual gaming environment, as opposed to its console PlayStation business.

TV content and cable channels remain powerful revenue and profit drivers for their owners, and with the digital gaming portion of GSN, this is an even bigger opportunity for Sony as the sole owner of GSN.

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The SVOD Wars are getting a lot of attention. Netflix continues to grow. Disney+ launches November 12 with content from Disney, Fox, Marvel, Lucasfilms, Pixar and National Geographic. Disney is also offering an option to bundle their new service, along with ESPN and Hulu.  Apple has launched with a low price and lots of original content, plus a promotion tied to certain hardware purchases from Apple. YouTube has a paid service already in place, as does Hulu and Amazon (through Prime). ATT/Warner Media is reported to be launching HBO Max in mid-2020. Google may well offer a service.

One thing is clear. More consumers will buy more SVOD services in the months and year ahead.

My company, Vorhaus Advisors, conducted The Manatt-Vorhaus Digital Strategy Study released this summer which indicates that of consumers who already subscribe to a Video on Demand or Streaming Service (74% of the US online population) indicate that they will buy 1.6 MORE VOD/Streaming services. So there is a real opportunity for a couple of new entrants to do well in the SVOD Wars.


Consumers tell us that the most likely services to be picked for new/additional subscriptions are YouTube and Amazon, which are strong, existing services. Of the new entrants to this competition, Disney/Fox scores strongest with 23% of those likely to buy a new/additional service indicating they will pick Disney/Fox’s service. Note in the chart below that Apple and Warner Bros. both come in at 11%. The Disney and Fox brands clearly drive very strong interest in their new service. This data is based on a question about likelihood to subscribe to these services, and not based on any details about the service or their prices.



Apple has created a lot of attention with the low price at which they are offering their service to the public. Plus they are offering a free subscription for one year to the buyers of some of their hardware products. If Apple succeeds with their new originals then they may well strengthen their position in this race.

The SVOD Wars are costing big money for the companies competing and now we will see, starting November 12, how the Disney service is received by consumers. There is no end in sight for the SVOD Wars and we will continue to monitor consumers’ adoption of these services.