Electronics giant Sony has formed a US-based company to develop online entertainment because it is confident it can make money out of its internet games site.
Set up last week, Sony Online Entertainment will offer its members games, including television spin-offs such as Wheel Of Fortune and The Dating Game. Sources said Sony has learned what advertisers want during the first year of its games site, The Station.
Most of the business unit's revenue will come from advertisers such as Kellogg and Proctor & Gamble, which place ads in the breaks between game show rounds.
Lisa Simpson, president of Sony Online Entertainment, claimed The Station has almost one million members and nearly half of those are female - a real pull for advertisers. 'We feel in the last year we have proved this concept both with advertisers, consumers and Sony,' she said. Sony is planning role playing and action games on its site.
It asks users for demographic information before allowing them to join The Station and is considering charging fees for its games.
On the company's Jeopardy game, which attracts office workers because it lasts for five minutes and has no sound, she said: 'Sometimes I wonder if we're having an impact on the productivity of American people. I've heard anecdotally that we've been banned in workplaces.'
Meanwhile, Sony has joined forces with Warner Music to create the UK's largest distribution centre for music, videos and electronic games. The merger will mean the closure of Warner's existing distribution operation at Alperton.
The distribution centre will be run by The Entertainment Network, a joint venture of which both companies own 50 per cent. The industry is expecting further companies to merge their distribution operations because of growing pressure on margins.
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