GSN president and CEO Rich Cronin has cashed in his chips and will leave the game network at the end of July.
Cronin has led GSN for six years, though he originally agreed to take the position for five years when he signed his contract in 2001.
Cronin said he stayed for an extra year to see to fruition some of his programming initiatives, such as the debut this month of the reality game show about bigotry, Without Prejudice? This show is the most highly promoted in the history of the game-centered network (“Pride in Prejudice,” July 9, 2007, page 10).
Cronin will receive a bonus for reaching long-term growth goals stipulated under his original contract, according to individuals familiar with terms of his employment. During the last six years, the reach of the basic-cable network co-owned by Liberty Media and Sony Pictures Entertainment has grown from 31 million households to the current 64 million homes.
The network has also converted its Web site, www.gsn.com, from a site promoting the TV schedule to a destination for play-along and for-cash game play.
The company said a successor is expected to be named within the next few weeks.
Cronin will work with company executives to ensure a smooth transition until he leaves, GSN said. For instance, he will represent GSN at the upcoming Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Washington, D.C., beginning July 22. He also was slated to present the network's programming at the summer Television Critics Association Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., this past weekend.
Cronin cited the foray into interactive applications that allowed viewers to play along with games on TV as his top accomplishment at GSN. He noted that experience also broadens the number of traditional media companies and startups he may meet with as his next employer. His contract bars him from pursuing his next job until next month.
Cronin joined GSN as president after Liberty bought one-half of the company from Sony Pictures Entertainment. During his tenure, GSN became a profitable venture and original content grew to include series such as Lingo, World Series of Blackjack and the award-winning educational initiative National Vocabulary Championship.
“We appreciate everything Rich has done to build GSN and bring it to profitability in a very competitive environment,” GSN board member Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, said in a prepared statement.
GSN's highest-rated show is High Stakes Poker, with a 0.4 Nielsen Media Research household average, and the network recorded a 0.3 household rating in primetime during the second quarter.