Media 2020: A Cable TV Visionary Talks About the New Media Revolution

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Kay Koplovitz, the founder of USA Network and the latest Women 2.0 keynote speaker to be announced, shares her vision of the changing media and entrepreneurial landscape.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

When it comes to predicting how a revolution will unfold, there’s no one better to ask than a veteran revolutionary. Enter Kay Koplovitz.

The latest addition to the Women 2.0 conference keynote speaker line-up, Koplovitz is the founder of USA Network and the mother of the cable TV business model. She introduced the concept of licensing as an additional revenue stream in the 1970s, upending the media landscape of the day, and then went on to launch the Sci-Fi Channel worldwide.

Now, thanks to mobile and the internet, the media world is once again going through a profound shake up. We spoke to Koplovitz to get a taste of her vision for media in 2020, and also asked about her current work at Springboard Enterprises, which nurtures female-led, high growth businesses. as well as her view on the future of female entrepreneurship.

When you look towards 2020, what big shifts do you foresee?

What the media business is going through today is another iteration of the massive changes in the business when I first started out back in the ‘70s. Vast changes are coming to the media environment with how the consumer relates to television. We went through television, we have cable networks, and now we have over the top, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon streaming and a lot of other players in the field, including Cisco and Apple that all affect the consumer. Mobility is a major factor in these changes. People want to have what they want, how they want it, and they want it on a mobile device. It’s very personalized.

By 2020, I think there will be a major conversion. That’s not to say others will go away. Radio will still be here. TV will still be here. Cable networks will still be here, but there will be other, more prevalent choices and I think a lot of those will have to do with what people can take with them.

What other changes are you excited to see unfold?

What is happening in terms of entrepreneurship. Funding mechanisms are starting to change. They’re opening up quite a bit with Kickstarter, Indiegogo and all these different things that are not in equity, but in how people put their money to work for charity or backing projects. Though crowdfunding does exist in some countries today, in the United States I think it might be quite awhile before there’s actual sanctioning of crowdfunding for equity because there are so many forces resisting it. However, change will come and democratize capital for companies a great deal. It is a great opportunity for more new players to come into the marketplace, including women.

So you’re optimistic we’ll have many more women entrepreneurs by 2020?

I don’t think it’ll be a straight line. There are going to be bumps along the road, but one thing I know for all the years I’ve spent in business is that you cannot stop the forces of the marketplace. For example, file sharing. The music business tried to litigate it out of existence and just couldn’t. Then Apple came in and made it possibleto buy single songs instead of a whole CD and the marketplace changed, so there’s always an evolution. That’s how we progress as a civilization.

Do you think there will there be a snowball effect as more women become entrepreneurs and role models?

At Springboard Enterprises we’ve brought 527 women-led companies to market. That’s a lot of companies! 83% of them raised capital. 80% are in business over 13 years. And I do see great collaboration among entrepreneurs. They are there to learn from each other and support each other. They don’t look at each other saying, ‘well, we’re all presenting this year, so if she gets funding, I don’t.’ We’ve created a whole ecosystem — investors, lawyers, accountants, corporations –that is necessary and that women didn’t have when we started. It needs to be a lot bigger, but there are other organizations like Women 2.0 that are working in the area, so if we help and support each other, we’ll gain strength that much faster.

Will all these new women entrepreneurs change the business landscape?

I also do quite a bit of work on women and diversity on corporate boards, which in larger corporations does have an effect on decision making and performance in a positive way. It also affects the employee base because they see there are also women in decision-making roles, especially if women on corporate boards reach out to executives within the corporation and mentor them. If we connect the dots, we have a lot of power and we will eventually see women at parity in the marketplace. That’s my goal.

Interested in hearing more from Koplovitz? Early bird tickets to the conference are available until July 31. Want an extra 30% off early bird tickets? Get a Women 2.0 membership! And…if you are a tech startup, with less than $1M in funding and at least one female founder, apply to our startup competition! First round closes (also) on July 31. 

What are you predictions for the media in 2020?

jstillman Jessica Stillman is an editor at Women 2.0 and a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter @entrylevelrebel.

Photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page.