Kay Koplovitz

Founder and Former CEO, USA Networks; Chairman, Springboard Enterprises

The first woman ever to head a television network, Kay Koplovitz is the founder and former CEO of USA Networks. Koplovitz is a pioneer and the visionary who created the first advertiser-supported basic cable network followed by the introduction of the business model of two revenue streams—licensing and advertising. Koplovitz and mentor Bob Rosencrans launched USA Network under the banner of Madison Square Garden Sports in 1977 at a time when there were only three broadcast networks. She later launched the popular Syfy channel and took USA Networks to markets around the globe.

Koplovitz launched major professional and collegiate sports on cable television by negotiating the first contracts with Major League Baseball (1979 with George Steinbrenner then Commissioner Kuhn), the National Basketball Association (David Stern), and the National Hockey League (John Ziegler and Joel Nixon). Within a few years, there were over 500 live sporting events. In 1982, she negotiated the first live coverage of the prestige golf and tennis events the Masters from Augusta Georgia and the US Tennis Open. 

There were many firsts under the leadership of Koplovitz during the time served as Chairperson & CEO. She led USA Network to first place in primetime cable ratings and held that ranking for 13 years. During her leadership, Kay re-directed and expanded the network from a sports focus to a general entertainment network by adding successful syndicated programming such as Miami Vice, Murder She Wrote, and MacGyver. In 1987, USA pioneered the "Made for Television Movie" series such as Moby Dick, starring Patrick Stewart, Silk Stalkings, La Femme Nikita, Farscape, and Highlander. She used the USA platform to launch the Emmy and Ace Award winning documentary Erase the Hate which grew into a public affairs initiative promoting tolerance.

Koplovitz led the Advertising Council as its Chair 1991–1992, co-founded the Cable Advertising Bureau, and was instrumental in the creation of what is now known as the Interactive Advertising Bureau. 

In 1998, President Clinton appointed Koplovitz to chair the bipartisan National Women’s Business Council. In 2000, she used this platform to launch Springboard Enterprises along with co-founder Amy Millman. Springboard Enterprises, is a venture-catalyst platform of influencers, investors, and innovators who back high-performing women entrepreneurs to full parity in raising capital and building scalable, sustainable companies.

Currently, Koplovitz serves on corporate, private and non-profit boards: CA Technology, Time Inc., and ION Media Networks, The International Tennis Hall of Fame, The Paley Center for Media as Trustee (currently Trustee Emeritus) since 1988. She also serves on the Board of Visitors of the College of Letters & Science at the University of Wisconsin where she received the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012. She is a member of The Committee of 200, Women’s Forum New York. 

She previously served on the corporate boards of Oracle, Nabisco, Instinet, General Re, and Liz Claiborne from 1992-2013, as Chairman of the Board from 2007–2013 as the company transformed into Kate Spade. She formerly headed the non-profit board of the Corporate Partners Program and as trustee of The Central Park Conservancy and The Partnership for New York City.  

Koplovitz has been acknowledged with various industry awards:  Elly Award (Elly Guggenheim) Honoree-Women’s Forum NY (2016), Cable Hall of Fame: Induction For Leadership in the Industry (2001), Babson College-Induction into Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs (2001), University of Michigan Business School-Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2001), Chairman’s Award from the National Association of Television Programming Executives (1996), Cable Ace Governor’s Award (1995), Chairman’s Award for Leadership from the Cable Advertising Bureau (1987), Cable Television Association Vanguard Award (1982), Named one of Advertising Age’s Top Ten Newsmakers (1980), The National Cable Television Association Vanguard Award for Young Leadership (1979).

She is the author of Bold Women, Big Ideas (2002), which she wrote to inform and inspire women entrepreneurs to create wealth through equity. Been There, Run That (2015), is an anthology of best practices from Springboard Enterprises’ expert network of entrepreneurs who have done it all.

Koplovitz is a motivational speaker on subjects ranging from women’s leadership in business, entrepreneurship, capital formation, the importance of creating a human capital ecosystem, to the transformation of the media landscape. She frequently interviewed on these subjects by news and media outlets including, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Mergers and Acquisitions, CNBC Power Lunch, CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg TV, Forbes, Inc. magazine, Tech Crunch, a variety of digital news sources.

She graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, earned a Master’s degree as a Merit Scholar at Michigan State University. Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Emerson College, St. John’s University, Michigan State University, and Canisius College.

Koplovitzis a native of Milwaukee living in NYC for many years and is married to William C. Koplovitz, Jr.

Member of the Advertising Hall of Fame, Class of 2017

Last Updated: December 2016