GSN (The Game Show Network) has been a long-standing joint venture with Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Television and Direct TV, and after DirectTV it was owned by AT&T. On November 18, 2019 AT&T sold their portion of GSN to Sony, who now owns the entire company – both the TV and digital games sides of the business. This meets, in part, AT&T’s goal to sell assets not central to their main businesses. This deal also allows Sony to now own the entire cable channel, as well as a substantial digital gaming business online.
GSN has had a long history with a number of mergers and acquisitions. Originally GSN was only a cable channel started in 1992, but in 2006 Worldwinner (a skilled based game company where you could 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 US 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, vs. 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.