Howard Katz
TV producer, programmer
Born:  November 30, 1949, in Livingston, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2014:  Sports

For all the headline-making superstars in professional football, no one gets more credit for the popularity of today’s game than Howard Katz.

Katz grew up a sports fan in suburban Livingston without any notion that he’d someday have a groundbreaking career in sports. “Sports was always an avocation for me, not a vocation,” he told the website Sports Video Group. “In college, I was sports director of the radio station, sports editor of the newspaper, and an assistant in the sports information office, but I always intended on going to law school. I really never realized that sports could be a vocation in life.”

After graduating from Colgate University, Katz began his professional career in 1971 as a production assistant at ABC Sports. The job was a game-changer. In short order, he had the thrill of working on the 1972 Summer Olympics, Monday Night Football, and “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” He eventually earned the title of producer.

In 1974, Katz began a decade-long stint at Trans World International, where he oversaw sports and entertainment programs such as “Battle of the Network Stars.” This was followed by his move in 1983 to Ohlmeyer Communications Company. As president of OCC, Katz produced an array of awards shows, TV movies, and sporting events, including the Senior PGA Golf Tour and the IndyCar Racing Tour.

When OCC founder Don Ohlmeyer sold his company to ESPN in 1993, Katz became executive VP of production at the new company. During his years at ESPN, he helped launch ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Radio, ESPN International, ESPN Classic, and ESPN Regional Television, as well as the X Games and ESPY Awards.

After six years at ESPN, Katz returned to ABC Sports as president and proceeded to reinvigorate the brand, thanks to deals with the Rose Bowl, the British Open, and the Indianapolis 500, and his decision to enlist the colorful John Madden as a “Monday Night Football” commentator.

Katz’s biggest impact came when he joined NFL Films in 2003. As senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations for the NFL, he took on the key responsibility of managing network relationships and creating the league schedule. His innovative flex-scheduling model assured that the biggest games were played before the biggest potential TV audiences—and is widely credited for driving the NFL’s TV-ratings domination of recent decades.

Inducting Katz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2014, broadcasting legend Dick Ebersole described his friend as, “One of the great producers and executives in the history of sports media.” Katz is also a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. In 2022, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored the New Jersey native with the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.

Intro/Acceptance Video