After years of sagging ratings, GSN President/CEO Rich Cronin said he will resign from the company at the end of July. He has held the role since joining GSN in 2001. The network said it expects to name his successor, likely someone not currently at the network, in the coming weeks.
Cronin's contract, a year-long extension to an initial five-year deal, is set to expire at the end of the month, he said. He will begin looking for opportunities at start-ups in TV and new media at that time.
"I love this business, so I'm going to take August off and dive in in September and explore opportunities," he said in an interview. "It's an exciting time in the industry."
In his six years at GSN, jointly owned by Liberty Media and Sony Pictures, Cronin oversaw the network's morph from a network of reruns to one with originals of its own and helped grow its distribution from 31 to 64 million homes.
But despite the addition of new genres of programming, like several new interactive gameshows planned for this summer, and despite gains in daytime viewing, GSN has been down or flat in prime every quarter since 2004, according to Nielsen. The network saw its biggest dip since 2004 during second quarter, which just finished. It was down 27% during the day and 26% in prime during second quarter to an average 186,000 and 229,000 total viewers, respectively.
Cronin attributed ratings troubles to the rising popularity of gameshows during primetime on the broadcast networks.
"Gameshows are hot and advertisers want to be in them and cable operators want to have gameshows on - it's a hot genre," he said. "But when we're up against a gameshow in prime, we lose viewers."
Before GSN, Cronin was President/CEO of Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network and prior to that spent almost 14 years at MTV Networks, where he eventually founded the company's TV Land cable network.
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