Kay Koplovitz

Network Creator/ Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, cable network executive Kay Koplovitz talks about her interests at a very early age in the concept of satellite and cable technology. She discusses her work as director of community services for UA Columbia Cablevision in Oakland, NJ in the mid-70s. She details her securing an account with HBO, where she oversaw the 1975 "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match of Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier, which she says changed the course of television history. She describes her work as head of Madison Square Garden Sports Network (which became USA Network) and the deal she struck with George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees, which lead to an overall deal with Major League Baseball. She then speaks in great detail about her work as president and chief executive officer (the first woman in television history to hold that title) of the USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel. She also discusses such later ventures as the Broadway Television Network. Jane Altschuler conducted the interview in New York, NY in a joint venture with New York Women in Film & Television, on May 3, 2006.

"Cable, to be anything, had to offer more than just off-air signals. If it was just off-air signals, we'd never grow. People wouldn't pay for that."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Kay Koplovitz on how HBO's Thrilla from Manila changed cable television history 
Kay Koplovitz on pushing the programming envelope in cable
Kay Koplovitz on her proudest achievements
Kay Koplovitz on her advice to aspiring media executives
Kay Koplovitz on the launch of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy)
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years, influences, education and early interest in media
On her family being one of the first ones to have a television; on becoming interested in geosyncronous orbiting satellites which she felt could open communications worldwide after hearing a lecture in London by Arthur C. Clarke and writing her masters thesis on the subject; on her belief in the power of the idea
On going to Washington D.C. and getting a job in COMSAT and publicizing satellites; on an earlier job as a producer at WTMJ in Wisconsin; on realizing that satellite technology would be embraced by cable companies

Chapter 2

On not having formal business training and her natural competitiveness; on her marriage to William Koplovitz, a communications lawyer; on realizing the value of the cable industry; on how they were both hired by Bob Rosencrans at UA-Columbia
On her passion for wanting to transform cable in the 1970s; on beginning her career at UA-Columbia in expanding franchises; on wanting to be in programming after two years
On being one of the few women in the cable industry in the 1970s; on working with Home Box Office (HBO) in 1975; on the historic Thrilla in Manilla fight that satellites proved that program networks could work in cable
On launching Madison Square Garden Sports Network the first basic cable network in 1977; on mistakenly broadcasting a Yankees game on her new network which allowed her to negotiate a contract with Major League Baseball and the NBA to allow their games to be televised on cable

Chapter 3

On running Madison Square Garden Sports Network; on business model used; some of the early employees of the network
On getting advertisers on Madison Square Garden Sports Network; on the origin of the Cable Advertising Bureau
On her programming on Madison Square Garden Sports Network; on the few women in the cable industry and on promoting education of management
On the changing of Madison Square Garden Sports Network's name to USA
On the 1981 sale of USA Network to Time Warner and Paramount and Barry Diller's and MCA's involvement in it
On the growth of USA in programming; on acquiring Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote in 1987 and starting television movies
On attempting to buy USA Network back when Time Warner wanted control of CNN; on MCA and Paramount ending up with the company
On pushing the programming envelope; on her management style

Chapter 4

On the launch of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy)
On the takeover of USA and ownership of basic cable networks and Edgar Bronfman and Barry Diller's involvement
On leaving USA Network after its sale; on educating people on how to retain ownership in a company
On her appointment by President Clinton to chair the bipartisan National Women's Business Council; on how she used this platform to launch Springboard Enterprises, which helps women raise venture capital
On New York Women in Film & Television
On working in New York 
On pay-per-view and on-demand business structures in cable television
On the launch of Broadway Television Network and its demise after 9/11
On her then-current projects in new media, Asian markets
On her proudest achievements 
On her advice to aspiring media executives
On her opinion of women in the business
On how she'd like to be remembered
On photos illustrating points in her career
Kay Koplovitz on a fun picture of herself
Shows

Thrilla in Manila

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Kay Koplovitz on how HBO's Thrilla in Manila changed cable television history 
Topics

Coverage

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Kay Koplovitz on how HBO's Thrilla from Manila changed television history 
Kay Koplovitz on launching Madison Square Garden Sports Network, the first basic cable network

Network Creation

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Kay Koplovitz on realizing in 1973 that cable television would offer opportunities and joining UA-Columbia
Kay Koplovitz on HBO's early years in the 1970s
Kay Koplovitz on launching Madison Square Garden Sports Network , the first basic cable network
Kay Koplovitz on changing the name of her network Madison Square Garden Sports Network to USA in 1979
Kay Koplovitz on the creation of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy)

Olympic Games

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Kay Koplovitz on changing the name of her network Madison Square Garden Sports Network to USA in 1979

Technological Innovation

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Kay Koplovitz on discovering the potential of satellite technology after hearing a lecture by Arthur C. Clarke

Women

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Kay Koplovitz on being one of the few women executives in the cable industry in the 1970s
Kay Koplovitz on her proudest achievements
Professions

Cable Executive

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Kay Koplovitz on the business model for cable's Madison Square Garden Sports Network, the first cable network
Kay Koplovitz on her management style at USA

Executives

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Kay Koplovitz on her advice to aspiring media executives
Genres

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Kay Koplovitz on the creation of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy)

Sports

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Kay Koplovitz on how HBO's Thrilla from Manila changed television history 
People

Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

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Kay Koplovitz on the takeover of USA and ownership of basic cable networks and Edgar Bronfman and Barry Diller's involvement

Arthur C. Clarke

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Kay Koplovitz on becoming interested in geosyncronous orbiting satellites which she felt could open communications worldwide after hearing a lecture in London by Arthur C. Clarke and writing her masters thesis on the subject

Bill Clinton

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Kay Koplovitz on a photo of media executives meeting with President Clinton

Barry Diller

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Kay Koplovitz on the takeover of USA and ownership of basic cable networks and Edgar Bronfman and Barry Diller's involvement

Kay Koplovitz

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Kay Koplovitz in a photo with husband Bill Koplovitz
Kay Koplovitz on a fun picture of herself

Bob Rosencrans

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Kay Koplovitz on realizing in 1973 that cable television would offer opportunities and joining UA-Columbia
Kay Koplovitz on Bob Rosencrans

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