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Sony Pictures Entertainment Buys AT&T’s Stake in Game Show Network

Cynthia Littleton

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Sony Pictures Entertainment has bought out AT&T’s minority interest in Game Show Network for about $500 million.

The deal makes Sony the sole owner of GSN. AT&T had owned 42% of the company, which the telco giant inherited with its purchase of DirecTV in 2015. AT&T has been on a mission this year to pay down the $180 billion debt load left by its acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner. AT&T’s debt stands at about $154 billion, according to its third-quarter earnings report last month.

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“We’re excited to bring Game Show Network fully into the Sony Pictures Entertainment portfolio,” said Mike Hopkins, chairman of Sony Pictures Television. “The acquisition allows us to work more closely with the company’s talented team to deliver the best iconic game shows, develop and syndicate new game show IP for audiences across the nation, as well as
to advance the fast-growing GSN Games business, all of which directly aligns with our strategy of developing targeted direct-to-consumer offerings.”

Sony and AT&T earlier this year shopped the GSN Games unit for a sale as a separate entity from the cable channel. The unit makes games for social media platforms and casinos, including “Wheel of Fortune” and “Scrabble”-branded titles. Hopkins’ comment regarding GSN Games indicates that there has been a change of heart about offloading the unit.

Mark Feldman remains president and CEO of GSN. The channel is among a number of ad-supported cable outlets facing an uncertain future at a time of major changes in the pay TV landscape.

AT&T’s 42% stake in GSN was valued at about $380 million. The transaction also included $130 million in dividend payments that Sony owed its partner.

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