Stuart Snyder: The Perfect Combination
Snyder’s assets tailor-made for Turner’s Cartoon Network and gaming networks
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/21/2007 8:00:00 PM
Throughout his career, Stuart Snyder has proved he knows how to put on a good show. In high school, he booked musical acts for an upstate New York amphitheater. Later, he headed companies that produced hit live events, from Disney on Ice to World Wrestling Entertainment, as well as movies and TV shows. Now, in his latest act at Turner Broadcasting, Snyder is delivering entertainment on TV and digital venues, and is angling to grow Turner’s business further.
As executive VP/COO of Turner’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media unit, Snyder oversees nets Cartoon Network and Boomerang; those networks’ Web sites; and Cartoon’s popular late-night block Adult Swim. He also heads Turner’s young adult broadband gaming networks, GameTap and Super Deluxe, and Cartoon’s animation studio.
Turner formed the group earlier this year and tapped Snyder, who had been running GameTap, to run the venture. The opportunity arose, in part, because Cartoon’s previous general manager, Jim Samples, resigned last January after a failed marketing stunt for Adult Swim in Boston, where a flashing box caused a bomb scare. With Cartoon needing a new top executive, Turner opted to reorganize all of its kids brands.
Snyder started in his new position in May; he faces plenty of challenges to growing his new group. While a strong performer, Cartoon currently lags in ratings behind rivals Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Adult Swim faces constant competition from young-skewing TV networks and the Internet. The GameTap and Super Deluxe businesses must keep up with consumer demands and new technology.
Snyder thinks one way to grow the businesses is to foster collaboration and send audiences from one property to another. “These brands should all play together,” he says.
The most pressing concern is the group’s flagship, Cartoon Network. Snyder says the channel needs to grow ratings and improve its perception with kids and their parents. “We need to put on shows that engage the audience better,” he says.
After a slow start, Cartoon, despite its name, is now in the live-action business, which has been wildly successful for Disney and Nick. Snyder says he’ll continue to develop animation, which has been Cartoon’s staple. “I believe the best shows will win,” he says.
Snyder has honed his gut for hit productions during a 25-year career in entertainment. He learned the business side early, working in his father’s music store in Monticello, N.Y., through high school and college. After graduation from Binghamton University, he took a sales job at MGM/UA, pitching movies to non-traditional venues, like nursing homes and prisons. When the company moved west to Los Angeles, Snyder went along, eventually rising to head of sales for the home video unit.
After MGM, Snyder joined Live Home Video/Carolco Pictures as VP of sales, pitching titles from Terminator II to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When he left in 1993, the company was a top five player in the home video business with $450 million in revenue.
That success attracted the attention of Turner Broadcasting executives, who recruited Snyder to run its nascent home video business. At the time, Turner gleaned just $20 million in revenue from the business, which had 11 employees. Slowly, Turner amassed a stellar library, from Hanna Barbera cartoons to the New Line and Castle Rock feature rosters. When the company merged with Time Warner, Snyder’s division had grown to almost $500 million in revenue and 110 employees. The unit later merged with Warner’s biggest home video division, and Snyder moved on.
At his next stop, as president of Feld Entertainment, Snyder was immersed in live events and tours. The company ran shows such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice. He returned to entertainment during a brief tour as president of USA Home Entertainment and then as president/COO for the then-World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment).
At WWE, Snyder gained experience that he says serves him well at Turner. Along with WWE’s successful live events, the company created 20 hours of TV programming per week and sold its own advertising. Snyder also learned consumer products and even dabbled in licensing for video games.
“That business is driven by so many facets. It was a nice marriage of my experiences,” he says.
After starting a new events business, Turnstile Entertainment, Snyder went on to lead Montreal-based Cinar Entertainment. Under Snyder’s direction, the distressed business was eventually revived, then sold.
But in the new media era, Snyder became intrigued by broadband and online gaming ventures and returned to Turner to run GameTap, which launched in 2005. GameTap relies on subscriptions, but Snyder has also launched a free Web-based service and both businesses have grown rapidly.
When Turner was seeking a leader for its young-skewed businesses, Snyder offered a perfect resume, says Turner Entertainment Group President Mark Lazarus.
“His breadth of entertainment experience with kids and young adults made him perfectly suited,” Lazarus says, adding that in his short tenure, Snyder is already effecting change, encouraging collaboration between the different kids and young adult businesses.
“We are starting to share resources and creativity to move audiences around from one to another,” Lazarus says.
Snyder must also attend to industry issues. Cartoon and other kids networks are under pressure to promote healthy and safe lifestyles for children. Under Snyder, Cartoon has devised new guidelines to limit character licensing for food and drinks and to incorporate nutrition and exercise messages into ads.
Even as they change, Snyder says, his properties must stay true to their audiences: “We have to protect our brand and our responsibility to kids and parents.”
To see a gallery of Fifth Estater caricatures, click here.
No related content found.
No Top Articles