Ken Solomon is chairman and chief executive officer of Tennis Channel, the 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle. Solomon joined the independent network in 2005 at a time when it reached 3.5 million households, and has since led its exponential growth to reach close to 35 million subscribers, and more than 55 million during major tournaments. In this time he has tapped into the tennis community’s grass-roots health and fitness appreciation, developed Tennis Channel’s advertiser and sponsor base, and added virtually all of the sport’s top-100 events, including its four “majors”: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. He has also secured investment and board participation from the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the sport’s governing body in the United States. Today, along with significant ratings and continuing growth coupled with a high-income, highly desired audience, the channel is at the media content and production forefront, among the industry leaders with thousands of hours of round-the-clock high-definition tournament coverage and original programming.
Prior to Tennis Channel, Solomon held top posts at Universal Television, DreamWorks, Disney and News Corp. He also founded and led Fine Living Network for Scripps Networks, building it from concept to launch in just over a year, developing it into one of the farthest-reaching lifestyle brands in multimedia at the time.
Earlier in his career, as president of Universal Studios Television (also Studios USA Television), Solomon oversaw program development and production, as well as marketing and distribution activities on a worldwide basis for prime-time network broadcast, cable, syndication, and made-for-television movies. During his tenure Universal captured an Emmy Award for best drama with Law & Order, and pioneered the licensing of an original series across multiple network platforms with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to both NBC and USA Network. Other series included Hercules, Xena: Princess Warrior and a variety of dramas and sitcoms.
As co-head of DreamWorks SKG Television, Solomon worked with the new studio’s legendary founders (Messrs. Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen) in laying the groundwork and helping develop its worldwide television operations. He has also held senior positions at News Corp., including executive vice president of network distribution at Fox Broadcasting during its transitional ascending period. In this role he was responsible for all affiliate relations and led the network’s successful conversion of dozens of CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates to Fox, while at the same time launching the NFL and NHL franchises. Immediately prior he was executive vice president and general sales manager for Twentieth Century Fox Domestic Television, leading sales and marketing of The Simpsons, Cops, A Current Affair, M*A*S*H, LA Law and the Fox film library. Solomon was integrally involved in the formative development, sale and distribution of FX cable network, News Corp.’s first venture into basic cable. His experience also includes the positions of vice president-eastern regional manager at The Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Domestic Television, for such shows as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Golden Girls and Home Improvement, and eastern division manager for Paramount Domestic Television, overseeing the Paramount film library and the series Cheers, Family Ties, Entertainment Tonight.
Before launching Fine Living, Solomon served as founding president of iBlast. He was responsible for building the nation’s largest digital data-casting network, with 18 major broadcast groups comprising 246 individual television stations, covering 93 percent of U.S. television households.
In addition to Tennis Channel, Solomon is chairman of art-and-culture network Ovation. The 24-hour, multiplatform network is focused on entertaining, inspiring and engaging the artist in all of us by offering original and acquired programming focused on art, culture and personal creativity. In 2006 he led a team of investors that purchased the network from its founding group of arts-community luminaries, at a time when it reached 4.5 million households. Since then the executive team has rebranded the channel under the aegis that everybody, everywhere, is touched in some way by the creative, and has subsequently grown Ovation to a 44-million subscriber base. The network has forged partnerships with premier cultural institutions, artists and other relevant organizations in both the United States and abroad.
Solomon is a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is also Southern California co-chair of the administration’s National Finance Committee and Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solomon was chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Bel-Air chapter 2010-2011 and is on the boards of both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and WorldGolfTour.com. He has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by H.E.L.P. Group, one of the largest and most influential children’s charities in the United States, for which he serves on the board. Solomon is a board member of West Los Angeles’ Pacific Hills School and on the advisory board of the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission. He also sits on the executive board of Americans for the Arts’ Business Committee.
In 2009, Solomon led the decision by Tennis Channel to boycott the Dubai Tennis Championships after that country refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer, despite her having qualified to compete in the event under women’s professional tennis guidelines. Subsequently, The Wall Street Journal and numerous others canceled their sponsorship of the competition, and American star Andy Roddick withdrew from the following week’s men’s tournament. Later that same week the United Arab Emirates granted a visa to Israeli player Andy Ram for the upcoming men’s competition, and Peer would be granted her visa to play in 2010 – in doing so becoming the first Israeli female athlete to ever compete in the country. For his actions regarding the Dubai tournament, Solomon was recognized by and asked to address the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s National Policy Conference in 2009.