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Wisnia Putting The ‘Op’ in Pop

When David Wisnia took over business operations at TVGN in April, he had a plan.

“I wanted to make sure that we were a network that wasn’t just predicated on hits alone—that we were well-diversified in all areas and all facets of our business,” says Wisnia, who is president of business operations at the network.

Under Wisnia’s watch, TVGN has seen a number of gains, including financial growth in the triple-digits (percentage-wise) over the last 10 months, as well as the addition of more than 40 new advertisers. The net has also seen a 47% improvement in HD penetration year-over-year and has made an international distribution deal with Banijay and a domestic digital pact with CBS Interactive that allows for EST distribution, a first for the network.

Wisnia, who works closely with TVGN entertainment and media president Brad Schwartz, was tasked with helping to move the network past its image as a TV listing channel to a stand-alone general entertainment brand. On Jan. 14, the network will formally leave TV Guide behind when it transforms into Pop, which aims to celebrate the fun of being a TV and film fan.

“David’s guiding hand is already evident in the tremendous momentum that TVGN has generated during the past year,” says Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate CEO. “As the network begins the New Year as the rebranded Pop, his vision, guidance and planning will continue to play an important role in its success.”

The revamp has been in the works since CBS bought a 50% stake in TVGN in 2013. Lionsgate holds the other half-stake. That partnership, Wisnia says, gives the network access to properties most nets don’t have.

“If you go back to the history of TV Guide, it has tremendous brand recognition,” says Wisnia. “It was a tremendous network. That being said, it’s not reflective of who we are today, and even more importantly, who we plan to be tomorrow and in the future going forward.”

Attorney at Law

Born in Chile, Wisnia moved to the U.S. when he was 2½ so his father could attend UCLA medical school.

The exec says he grew up enchanted by Hollywood but decided to pursue a law degree while he was in junior high and high school. After law school, he spent his first few years practicing at Fox. But Wisnia’s thirst for knowledge soon led him to approach David Sternberg, then senior VP and general manager of Fox Sports International, about learning the business side of the industry.

Wisnia left Fox for Star TV in 2007 to head North American operations of the Hong Kong-based News Corp. unit.

“He did an unbelievable job there,” says Laureen Ong, who was then CEO of Star and now works as a consultant and board member of WWE Entertainment and of Mary Baldwin College. “He was able to get deals done that everybody said were impossible.”

The new father—Wisnia has a 2-month-old son with his fiancée, Claudia Teran, Fox Sports general counsel— joined CBS in 2011 and has been on TVGN’s board since CBS’ purchase.

“David’s business acumen, operational leadership and strategic vision make him a terrific executive,” says Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corp. “Previously, he made valuable contributions across several areas of CBS, and now he’s playing a key role in helping TVGN reach its full business potential, especially as they gear up for the network’s rebrand to Pop next year.”

Pop has already announced its initial programming slate with series including Rock the Boat: New Kids on the Block, Schitt’s Creek and Unusually Thicke.

Wisnia attributes much of Pop’s success—and potential—to his teammates. “Backed by the power of CBS and Lionsgate, and coupled with the talented team we have, the sky is the limit for Pop,” says Wisnia.