Music, games and pictures all contributed to a doubling of full year net profits at Sony, the Japanese electronics and entertainment group, despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
Reporting its financial results for the January-to March quarter and 12-month results from April 2020 to March 2021, Sony said that annual sales increased by 9% to JPY9.00 trillion ($83.3 billion). Annual net income increased from JPY582 billion ($5.38 billion) in 2019-20, to JPY1.17 trillion in 2020-21 ($10.8 billion).
The pictures division, which incorporates the Sony Pictures movie studio, as well as TV networks and television production operations, increased its operating income from $628 million in 2019-20 to $762 million for 2020-21, despite sales dropping by 23% from $9.32 billion to $7.16 billion.
The games and network services division enjoyed a 32% increase in full year sales, rising from JPY1.98 trillion ($8.3 billion) to JPY2.66 trillion ($24.6 billion). The division’s operating profits increased by 43% from JPY238 billion ($2.20 billion) to JPY342 billion ($3.17 billion).
The music division saw revenues increase by 10% from JPY850 billion ($7.87 billion) to JPY940 billion ($8.70 billion). Operating profits increased by 32% from JPY142 billion ($1.31 billion) to JPY188 billion ($1.74 billion).
A year ago, as the impact of the coronavirus was only beginning to be felt, Sony said that it had strong financial reserves and was in a position to be acquisitive. The corporation used that financial muscle on several occasions in 2020.
It took a minority stake in Chinese video entertainment player Bilibili, and in July took a stake in Epic Games. Sony said earlier this month (i.e. after the end of the financial year) that it was expanding the Epic stake with a further $200 million investment in the company.
In December 2020, Sony Pictures announced the purchase of anime streamer Crunchyroll, a move that might bolster its position in the Japanese cartoon format against aggressive rival Netflix. But the deal is currently being examined by U.S. regulators.
In February 2021, Sony Music Entertainment announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement with Kobalt Music Group to acquire Kobalt’s recorded-music operations, including AWAL, and Kobalt Neighboring Rights. The acquisition is priced at $430 million.
AWAL and Neighbouring Rights will become a new division within SME’s suite of independent artist and label services offerings and will be enhanced by the technology and network of SME’s independent music distribution company, The Orchard, according to the announcement. AWAL has released music by Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Little Simz and others.