Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin is leaving the cable giant after 14 years to become the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team.
As Turner’s president, Koonin oversaw programming marketing, scheduling, strategy and operations for the company’s channel brands TNT, TBS, TruTV and Turner Classic Movies. He has worked with the NBA for 28 years and was instrumental in programming and acquiring the media rights around the NBA and NCAA.
Koonin will oversee business, financial and strategic operations for the NBA team as well as the Philips Arena. He has also acquired a minority stake in the team’s ownership.
Prior to joining Turner, he headed up marketing and worldwide advertising for The Coca-Cola Company for more than a decade as the soft drink brand’s vice president of sports and entertainment marketing.
“It is no secret that I have a passionate love of sports, particularly for our local teams,” Koonin wrote in an internal memo. “In the past few months, I was invited to become an investor in the Atlanta Hawks. During our investor conversations, it became quickly apparent that the Hawks needed local leadership as well as a face and voice for the franchise. I have accepted the position of CEO and part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks. The job is consistent with my desire to make a difference in my community and finish my career in Atlanta.”
In another memo to staff, Turner Broadcasting System president David Levy said the company has immediately begun looking internally and externally for a replacement.
“We have an opportunity now to reinvigorate our core entertainment networks and brands at a pivotal time,” he wrote. “We can look with fresh eyes at positioning and programming choices; at how we are engaging with audiences; and at how we want to develop and grow these important assets. This effort will bring new voices to the conversation and reveal things we can and should do differently.”