decided to create a new cable channel."
Her husband came up with the idea of science fiction. At the time, science fiction movies and books were at the top of the charts, and Star Trek was an enduring brand, but there had never been a national cable network offering 24 hours of science fiction programming.
So they took a gamble, and they poured most of their profits into the new venture. By then, she and Rubinstein were married with three small children, and she was traveling all the time, selling the concept to the managers of small cable systems, to try to convince them to carry the channel.
"It's very scary, because you go for a long time not knowing whether or not it's really going to happen," she said. "You have to really believe in it and believe in your abilities that it will happen."
While she saw the risks, she said she felt the potential outweighed them and was willing to work hard to overcome the obstacles.
"I heard all the time, "You can't do this, and here are the reasons why: You can't do it because you don't have financing, you don't have a satellite transponder, you don't have programming,' " Silvers recalls. "These were all valid points. From the outside, it looked very risky with very little potential for success. But I didn't see it that way. I saw it as the building blocks I had to capture, and I had to figure it out, and that was my challenge."
It took a few years, but she got the cable carriage, a satellite transponder agreement and programming.
"It worked out fine, but it was truly a lesson in entrepreneurship and tenacity to keep going," Silvers said. "Whenever you bring something that brand new to the marketplace, you meet with a lot of resistance."
In the end, needing more capital to bring the concept to the air, Silvers and her husband sought a strategic partner to take an ownership interest in the channel. So they went to the USA Network, whose chief executive loved the idea but needed the approval of the network's owners, Universal and Paramount. They decided they didn't want to invest in it. They wanted to buy it, and they would start their own version, if not.
So Silvers and her husband sold the Sci-Fi channel a few months before launching it in September 1992. She is barred from disclosing the sale price.
"I am so proud of creating something that truly changed the landscape," said Silvers, who stayed on with the Sci-Fi channel as co-vice-chairman for two years.
Then, trying to morph her experience into her next chapter, Silvers created a company, Big Entertainment, and rolled out kiosks selling items of pop culture in malls across America, and also launched a line of comic books based on works of best-selling authors and celebrities from the world of science fiction. The company went public in 1993.
But the business wasn't working out, and she realized she needed to change direction.
"I don't think there's an entrepreneur that somewhere along the way hasn't experienced failure," she said. "It's how you deal with it. You have to say, "This is not working. I am not going to do this anymore. I am going to do something else.' "
She saw the Internet as the next great opportunity, and in the late 1990s, bought Hollywood.com from The Los Angeles Times.
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