Kay Koplovitz

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Kay Smith
Born (1945-04-11) April 11, 1945 (age 79)
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison and Michigan State University
Occupation(s)Co-Founder and Chairman of Springboard Enterprises and Springboard Growth Capital

Kay Koplovitz (nee Smith, born April 11, 1945[1]) is an American businesswoman, best known as the founder of the cable television channel USA Network, for which she served as chairwoman and CEO from its founding in 1977 until 1998 when it was sold for $4.5 billion. She was the first woman in the US to head a television network. She is also the author of the books Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High-Risk Entrepreneurial Game, and Been There, Run That. She is credited with creating the joint advertising-licensing model, which became widespread among cable television networks.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Kay Koplovitz was born as Kay Smith in a middle-class neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her mom worked in the home, and her father was a sales executive for a metal forging company. As a young child Koplovitz would always be looking for ways to make money, having an early affinity for salesmanship, her entrepreneurial spirt was being crafted, from selling Christmas cards to Girl Scout cookies, Koplovitz loved making ideas work, making money and being able to buy things she wanted.

Koplovitz graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a B.A. in communications and earned a master's degree in communications from Michigan State University.[3]

Between her junior and senior year Koplovitz visited England, and while on her travels saw a poster advertising a lecture on geosynchronous orbiting satellites. The then twenty year old Koplovitz was fascinated by the lecture, and later she wrote her masters thesis on satellite communications and the potential impact on governments, people, and communications.[4]


USA Networks[edit]

In 1975 Koplovitz joined Home Box Office and led the promotion of cable and satellite broadcasting of the Thrilla in Manila boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.[5][6] September 30th 1975 would change history forever. The timing of the sporting event would be the turning point Koplovitz would need in order to launch her idea. The live broadcast of the famous boxing match, allowed congressman and senators to see that satellites could be used for good commercial purposes and give people much joy from experiencing the live broadcasts.[7][8] She subsequently founded the USA Network in 1977 as an all-sports service, known as the Madison Square Garden Sports Network (not to be confused with the New York City-area regional sports network of the same name now simply known as MSG);[9][10] She led the launch of the USA Network mainly as an all-sports service in order to compete with Home Box Office.[5] The channel was renamed the USA Network in 1980. USA later become the number one ranking cable network in primetime viewership for 13 consecutive years[when?].[10] The USA Network was the first cable network to rely greatly on advertising revenue.[11] Despite creating and supervising the network, Koplovitz did not own it, but remained its President during ownership changes.[12][13][14][15][11] Under Koplovitz's leadership, the USA Network was the number one ranking cable network in primetime broadcasting[when?].[5]

Under her leadership, the Sci Fi Channel was launched in 1992 and USA Network International was launched in 1994, operating in several countries.[10] Koplovitz is also credited with creating the business model for cable networks after introducing the concept of two revenue streams: licensing and advertising.[3] However, at USA Networks she was known for overspending on things such as television reruns, eventually became a financial problem by the late 1990s, as interest in airing new content on a more regular basis grew.[11] Upon hiring former CBS executive Rod Perth as entertainment chief of USA Networks by 1997, Koplovitz decided to focus more on airing higher-budget miniseries content, such as Moby Dick, as well as other new shows.[16] She also made plans to cancel the USA Network's flagship WWF programming, a move which was opposed by USA Network executive Bonnie Hammer.[16] She served as chairman and chief executive officer of USA Networks until 9 April 1998, months after the company was sold for $4.5 billion and became a publicly listed company.[11][3] Unlike previous USA Networks owners, new owner Barry Diller, who previously had some ownership stock with the USA Network when he was head of Paramount Pictures,[17] took over Koplovitz's executive positions at USA Networks, which resulted in her resignation from the television networks she founded.[11][18] This also resulted in some of Koplovitz's future plans for the network, such as the planned removal of the WWF from USA Network in May 1998, being averted,[11][16] with Diller also cutting $40 million from the network's budget.[11]

Clinton Administration, Springboard Enterprises, Springboard Growth Capital, New York Fashion Tech Lab Koplovitz & Company[edit]

In the 1990s, Koplovitz became acquainted with the Clinton Administration. In early 1994, Koplovitz was among the tv executives who would assist President Bill Clinton in pushing a public service announcement campaign against violence in society, and was also later among media executives who personally met with President Clinton in 1996 to discuss TV's violence rating system.[19][20] In 1998, President Clinton appointed Koplovitz to chair the bipartisan National Women's Business Council.[21] This helped create a platform for her to co-found Springboard Enterprises in 2000. Springboard is a non-profit organization fostering venture capital investments in women-led high growth companies and has created about $36 billion in revenue,[22] created over 10,000 jobs[citation needed] and has accelerated the growth of 850+ women led businesses since its inception.[22]

Koplovitz also serves as head of the New York Fashion Tech Lab,[23] which she co-founded in 2014 in hopes of bringing promising technology companies in collaboration with the fashion and retail industry.[24]

In 2016,[25] she co-founded Springboard Growth Capital to bring growth stage investments to technology and life sciences companies emerging from Springboard Enterprises.[23]

In 1998, Koplovitz & Company LLC was established to provide advisory services to entertainment companies, sports organizations, advertisers and distributors. It advises companies on growth strategies and the firm makes investments in early and mid-stage companies in media and technology.[26]

Board memberships[edit]

In addition to her role as Chairman of both Springboard Enterprises and Springboard Growth Capital, Koplovitz also currently serves on the board at Athena Technology Acquisition Corp-SPAC and Athena Consumer Acquisition Corp, both part of Athena SPACs, Accenture Ventures and at Veniam.[2] She previously served as chairman of the board of Kate Spade (formerly Liz Claiborne), from January 2007 until May 2013.[3] She also previously served as a board member of ION Media, CA Technologies, Time Inc., Instinet, Oracle, Nabisco and General Re,[21] Sun New Media and a trustee emeritus of The Paley Center for Media and The International Hall of Fame.

In April 2014, Koplovitz joined the 10-member board of Time Inc., the publishing arm of Time Warner Inc. (now WarnerMedia, LLC).[27] She remained on the board until Time Inc. was acquired by the Meredith Corporation (now Dotdash Meredith) in 2018.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

Koplovitz holds honorary doctorate degrees from Emerson College, St. John's University, Michigan State University and Canisius College.[28]

Other honors and awards she has received include:

Personal life[edit]

Kay Koplovitz is married to private investor William C. Koplovitz, Jr.[30]


  1. ^ Bonnie Miller Rubin (1998). Fifty on Fifty: Wisdom, Inspiration, and Reflections on Women's Lives Well Lived. Little, Brown & Co. p. 134. ISBN 978-0446523691.
  2. ^ a b c "Boards & Governance". Koplovitz.com. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kay Koplovitz". Bloomberg Link. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  4. ^ Interview with world's most successful female entrepreneur, Kay Koplovitz, retrieved 2023-01-04
  5. ^ a b c Foley, Ellen (December 5, 2012). "Kay Koplovitz '67". Wisconsin Alumni Association. Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  6. ^ New York Women In Film & Television Collection (May 3, 2006). "Kay Koplovitz". Television Academy Foundation. Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  7. ^ Craig Leddy (2015-09-28). "The Fight That Helped Cable Take Flight". Multichannel News. Retrieved 2023-01-04.
  8. ^ Interview with world's most successful female entrepreneur, Kay Koplovitz, retrieved 2023-01-04
  9. ^ Koplovitz, Kay (January 5, 2015). "The USA Story". Koplovitz.com. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Kay Koplovitz Bio". Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Hofmeister, Sallie (April 10, 1998). "USA Networks CEO Kay Koplovitz Resigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  12. ^ Brown, Les (7 April 1978). "Garden Cable Network Is Going Beyond Sports". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  13. ^ "Madison Square Garden and UA- Columbia merge cable efforts" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. April 14, 1980. p. 130. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  14. ^ "In Brief" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. October 19, 1981. p. 88. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Time to buy all or half of USA Network" (PDF). Broadcasting Magazine. August 31, 1981. p. 24. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Assel, Shaun; Mike Mooneyham, Mike (February 2004). Sex, Lies, and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment. The Crown Publishing Group. p. 188. ISBN 9780307758132. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  17. ^ Salmans, Sandra (August 28, 1983). "Barry Diller's Latest Starring Role". New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  18. ^ "USA Network founder quits". CNN Money. April 9, 1998. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  19. ^ Edwards, Ellen (March 16, 1994). "TV, Clinton Team Up Against Violence". Washington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  20. ^ "Prophecies of the SyFy Queen". Worth Magazine. April 6, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2024.
  21. ^ a b c "About Kay". Koplovitz.com. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Helping women lead and succeed". Springboard Enterprises. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  23. ^ a b "Team". springboardgrowthcapital.com. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  24. ^ "Kay Koplovitz". New York Fashion Tech Lab. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  25. ^ "Springboard Growth Capital". springboardgrowthcapital.com. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  26. ^ "Koplovitz & Co". Koplovitz.com. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  27. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey. "Time Warner Unveils Time Inc.'s 10-Member Board". Dow Jones Business News. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  28. ^ "Speakers". WE Summit. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  29. ^ Wendy Diamond. "Women's Entrepreneurship Day Organization Pioneer Awards 2016 Winners". WED. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Kay Koplovitz Biography (1945– )". Film Reference. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  31. ^ Gross, Elana Lyn; Voytko, Lisette; McGrath, Maggie (2021-06-02). "The New Golden Age". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-06-02.

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