Cronin calls game at GSN

Exec oversaw big expansion at net

GSN president and CEO Rich Cronin said Tuesday that he is exiting the network at month's end.

Cronin joined GSN as president and CEO in 2001 after Liberty Media Corp. bought half the company from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"I have been fortunate to have been rewarded for the success here at GSN, and for me, this looks like the perfect time to try something new," he said. "We have a fantastic team of people here at GSN, and I am confident that the network will continue to grow."

Cronin declined to be more specific about the reasons behind his departure. Sources indicated that the executive recently received a bonus for reaching long-term goals at the network.

Until his exit, Cronin will continue to work closely with the GSN team and with clients to ensure a smooth transition. GSN said it expects to name Cronin's successor within the next few weeks.

As for his future, Cronin said that he will "be looking at opportunities in television and new media, including both entrepreneurial startups and established businesses."

Before GSN, Cronin was president and CEO of Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network, beginning in 1998. He also spent nearly 14 years at MTV Networks.

During Cronin's six years as head of GSN, he brought the network to profitability, and GSN expanded its distribution from 31 million to 64 million homes. In addition, GSN introduced live participation TV in the U.S., and was transformed from a promotional site into a platform for interactive play-along and online casual and cash games.

Under Cronin, GSN also expanded its programming to include such new originals as the interactive game show "Lingo" and interactive casino program "World Series of Blackjack." Cronin also brought the World Poker Tour to GSN for 2008 and has worked closely with programming executives on several new interactive TV series launching this year, including "Without Prejudice?" "Grand Slam" and "That's the Question."

"I'm really proud of how we've been able to turn GSN from a traditional network that featured game show reruns six years ago to a network that is the industry leader in interactivity and participation TV," Cronin said. "And I'm really proud that we've been able to take from a promotional Web site into a destination for online games."

GSN board members Steve Mosko, who is president of Sony Pictures Television, and Michael Zeisser, senior vp at Liberty Media, praised Cronin.

"We appreciate everything Rich has done to build GSN and bring it to profitability in a very competitive environment," Mosko said.

Added Zeisser: "I want to thank Rich for all his hard work and success in building GSN into the top U.S. network for interactive television games while growing into a new destination for online games. Rich and the entire GSN team have done an exceptional job."