"I fought to keep the sports in a separate network," she said. "They were not in the sports business. And they wanted to be in the entertainment business. I fought for more than a year to keep it, and I lost it. And now ESPN is the most valuable network out there today. But they didn't have the foresight."
Years later she negotiated a deal to buy the FNN (Financial News Network) cable channel. "I was literally sitting in the conference room at the Paramount office in Columbus Circle in New York when I got a call from MCA Universal saying they weren't going to do it," she said. "I knew that 24-hour financial news was going to be a very solid business. You didn't have to send people out around the world. You just needed desks, mainly in New York. I knew trading was going to go 24 hours. I could see it coming."
(CNBC ultimately bought the channel in 1991.)
In 1992 Koplovitz spearheaded the launch of the Sci-Fi Channel, utilizing a library of more than 3,000 hours of science fiction, fantasy and fantasy-horror programming to which USA had acquired the rights.
"People were thinking, Oh sci-fi; it's just a bunch of people running around with pocket protectors," she said. "And yeah, in the core, that's there, but there's a much broader viewer of what sci-fi is."
Today, USA Network is owned by NBCUniversal, a Comcast company (parent company of CNBC) that has an audience of 98.6 million people in the U.S. The channel is available from all major cable providers and can be accessed in roughly 86 percent of all homes with televisions around the country. Additionally, it has expanded much of its programming to a worldwide audience.
Koplovitz is no longer affiliated with either network, having moved on to launch a media advisory and investment firm. However, she noted, the world of broadcasting is in the midst of a revolution that's nearly as bold as the one she helped start, thanks to YouTube and other tools that allow people to self-broadcast.
"It's a vastly changing marketplace," she said. "When I started, there were barriers to entry. Today there are no barriers to entry, but ... the marketing is exceedingly difficult. It's a different business, but if you're a creator and you have great content as an individual, you have the opportunity to create something that can be leveraged."
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