Katz Networks has been a pioneer in starting digital over-the-air networks, and when Scripps paid $302 million million for the company in 2017, that signaled that it was a serious business.
In addition to Bounce and Court TV, Katz Networks also runs Grit, Laff, Court TV Mystery and two networks launched July 1: Defy TV and TrueReal.
Last year Katz Networks generated $257.5 million in revenue, up 13.4%. Along with Ion Media, purchased by Scripps this year, the Katz Networks are now part of Scripps Networks, the TV-station owner’s new national networks division.
Scripps is not the only broadcaster looking to profit from their secondary digital channels. For example, Sinclair Broadcast Group has Comet, Charge and TBD and Tegna bought Quest and Justice for $77 million in 2019 and launched Twist in January.
Katz told Broadcasting+Cable he’s leaving Scripps to return to being an entrepreneur. “I do plan on creating a new company and just like the Katz Networks, that new company will start with the consumer,” he said. “It’s a lesson that I have certainly learned that success and scale are always driven by delighting consumers and serving their needs. And that is my plan.”
He declined to say when the new company will launch or exactly what business it will be in.
Katz said he was grateful to Scripps for investing in his company and subsequently buying it. “I enjoyed being part of the world-class team at Scripps,” he said.
“The company has been extremely profitable, growing double digits every year for Scripps,” he added. “I look forward to working in the same space and who knows? Maybe be partners again, someday.”
When Scripps formed its national network division by combining Katz Networks, Ion Media and Newsy, it named former CFO Lisa Knutson as president of Scripps Networks. Katz was named COO and head of entertainment for the National Networks unit, reporting to Knutson.
Katz said that at that point he hadn’t decided to leave Scripps. But he said “Lisa is brilliant and is so well-rounded from her experience at Scripps leading up to her becoming CFO and now president of the Networks division, There is simply no one better to help lead that segment for Scripps.”
In an email to staff, Knutson said “it is with regret that I share that Jonathan Katz has decided to leave us.”
She credited him with growing Katz Networks and helping to make Scripps Networks a leader in free TV.
“Jonathan has been a tremendous partner in getting the Scripps Networks business launched as well as hiring and promoting terrific people. The division is in great shape financially and organizationally, and we have built a strong foundation for our ongoing growth and success,” Knutson said.
Katz started his career with various programming, advertising, promotion, publicity, production and news positions at stations in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Charlotte and Tampa over 14 years.
He moved to CNN as VP, marketing for CNN Newsource. He was senior VP and general manager for worldwide program planning and acquisition for Turner Broadcasting until 2009, and then started Bounce TV with Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.