Cassaro to Head Comcast’s Net Ad Sales

Comcast Corp. is consolidating the advertising sales teams for E! Entertainment Television, G4TechTV and other company-owned services, and plans to begin pitching advertisers on cross-platform deals across its networks next year.

The MSO named David Cassaro, currently senior executive vice president of sales and distribution at E! Networks, as president of the new Comcast Network Advertising Sales department. He’ll report to Amy Banse, executive vice president of Comcast’s programming investments division.

He will also collaborate with The Golf Channel’s ad sales team, which will remain independent due to the specialized, tournament-driven nature of its sales.

Cassaro said last week that it was too early to determine whether the consolidation will lead to job cuts at the sales teams for the individual Comcast-owned networks, comprising E!, Style, G4TechTV, International Channel Networks and Outdoor Life Network. In fact, as Comcast launches new cable networks, the company would need a sizeable sales team to sell an expanded portfolio.

“The reality is you have five networks now, with the possibility of new networks and new technology that Comcast has, specifically ad-supported VOD. It’s a much more competitive world out there, and I don’t see us in a situation where we have to cut bodies, but we have to figure that out,” he said.

Sources said that Comcast has considered consolidating the affiliate-sales teams at company-owned networks, but no decision has been made. Cassaro declined to comment on any changes Comcast might make on the affiliate-sales side.

The new ad-sales unit will be headquartered next door to the MSO’s Comcast Spotlight local ad-sales operation in Manhattan. Cassaro said Comcast hopes to move sales staffers from the networks into a central location.

Comcast doesn’t plan on combining local and national ad sales, but Cassaro said his department will work closely with Comcast Spotlight, and look to strike some cross-platform ad deals with advertisers that could include national ads on networks such as E!, local avails on Comcast systems and video-on-demand advertising.

“There will be opportunities I’m positive go to certain advertisers and to do business across all the platforms,” Cassaro said. “If you have an advertiser that’s advertising nationally and they want to supplement in individual markets, we have a wonderful way of doing that with Comcast Spotlight.”

Cassaro said Comcast executives had discussed consolidating the sales teams for “months and months in theory,” but that the plan was formalized only a few weeks ago.

He compared Comcast’s strategy to the combined ad-sales operations at companies such as Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Discovery Communications Inc. and Viacom Inc.

“Any time you have a large media company there are always people looking at ways of consolidating where jobs overlap, and this is one area that makes sense,” Cassaro added.

Cassaro said he’ll tout all five Comcast networks for the first time at an advertising conference next month in Florida, but that he wouldn’t cut deals for all of the networks until the Comcast Network Advertising Sales department is officially formed in January.

While some advertisers such as Procter & Gamble own brands that could be marketed across all of the networks, Cassaro said it would make sense for other companies to strike ad deals on a couple of Comcast-owned channels.