Upfronts 2017: Network Execs, Sales Execs and Buyers


Title: President, ad sales, Disney/ABC Television Group
Broadcast Network: ABC
2016 upfront sales: $2.1 billion
Outlook: After long-time ABC sales chief Geri Wang announced her plans to leave last year, the Disney/ABC Television Group consolidated ads sales for its broadcast, cable entertainment and kids businesses under Ferro, the Disney veteran who had been running the kids business. Senior sales execs Debbie Richman, Laura Nathans on and Debra O’Connell head up yield management, client solutions and sales and marketing in Ferro’s new organization.

Title: President, advertising revenue, Fox Network Group
Broadcast Network: Fox
2016 upfront sales: $1.4 billion
Outlook: Marchese was named to the top post at Fox on the eve of the upfront. Marchese joined Fox when his advanced advertising company true[x] was acquired by 21st Century Fox. He will put an emphasis on innovating the TV advertising business by creating ways to present viewers with fewer but more engaging experiences. He also was Involved in Fox partnering with Viacom and Turner to form Open AP, the consortium designed to simply and standardize audience buying.


Jo Ann Ross
President, ad sales
Broadcast Network: CBS
2016 upfront Sales: $2.5 billion
Outlook: In her 15th year as head of sales for CBS, Ross will be playing the stable hand dealt to her by CBS CEO Leslie Moonves that includes a schedule packed with returning series. CBS is looking to make sure it monetizes more of its viewing by pushing to do more deals based on C7 — which counts delayed viewing for seven days — and by using dynamic ad insertion to put fresh ads when its shows are viewed online or via video-on-demand.

Executive VP, national sales
Broadcast Network: The CW
2015 upfront sales: $500 million
Outlook: The CW has broadened its Advertiser mix as it has shifted away from being a network aimed at primarily young women to one that attracts 50% men with a growing roster of shows based on superheroes from the world of DC Comics. With its young audience, CW was a pioneer in grouping in digital viewership in convergent ad sales packages.

Keith Turner
President, sales
Broadcast Network: Univision
2016 upfront sales: Unavailable
Outlook: Univision is looking to bounce back from a steep ratings decline over the past three years. It is offering a lineup for more contemporary programming designed to be more attractive to the Spanish-speaking American viewers in primetime, where longtime No. 2 Telemundo has pulled even in the ratings. Having lost the World Cup to Telemundo, Univision has some work to do to maintain its big edge in ad revenue.

Chairman, NBCUniversal advertising sales and client partnerships
Broadcast Networks: NBC, Telemundo
2016 upfront sales: $2.4 billion
Outlook: NBC is the biggest part of the huge advertising portfolio Yaccarino manages at NBCUniversal. She has been one of the most outspoken proponents of advanced advertising and this year announced that the company plans to have $1 billion worth — or about 10% of its ad inventory — sold based on audience targeting rather than traditional demographics. Last season NBC added a big hit in This Is Us and the network is looking forward to big things with 2018, kicking off with the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea.


David Cohen
Mediabrands’ Magna Global
Title: President
Key Clients: Coca-Cola, KFC, Johnson & Johnson
2015 Buying: $17 billion

Chris Geraci
Omnicom Media Group
Title: President, national video investment, OMD
Key Clients: Pepsi, McDonalds, Nissan
2015 Buying: $22.9 billion

Michael Law
Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi
Title: Executive VP, managing director
Key Clients: General Motors, Pfizer, Microsoft
2015 Buying: $12.2 billion

John Muszynski
Publicis Media Exchange
Title: Head upfront negotiator
Key Clients: Verizon, Toyota, Samsung
2015 Buying: $41.2 billion

Title: Chief investment officer
Top Clients: Ford, Unilever, American Express
2015 Buying: $27.04 billion


Louis Carr
President, media sales
Company: BET
2015 Ad Revenue: $360.6 million*
Outlook: The African-American-oriented network is expanding into comedy in primetime and late night with big names including Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey and Wanda Sykes. It is also pushing its digital reach, releasing a new study on how African-Americans use Twitter. The company is rebranding its Centric Network, aimed at African-American women, as BET Her, effective Oct. 1.

Scott Collins
President, national advertising sales
Company: AMC Networks
2016 Ad Revenue: $990 million **
Outlook: The Walking Dead is still a monster, but ratings are down from their peak, so the company is emphasizing the breadth of its quality original series, not only on AMC, but on its other networks, including IFC, SundanceTV and BBC America, noting that it offers 34% of all of TV’s ad supported scripted dramas, more than any other programmer. AMC also hired Adam Gaynor from Dish Network as it starts a data business.

Ed Erhardt
President, global sales and marketing
Company: ESPN
2016 Ad Revenue: $2.723 billion*
Outlook: ESPN is the poster child for the problems cable networks have been having with cord-cutting and cord-shaving, which have impacted viewership and resulted in a wave of on-air faces losing their jobs. But live sports remains powerful programming and advertisers flock to ESPN’s NFL, college football, NBA, MLB, tennis and golf coverage on TV and on its growing digital platforms.

Marianne Gambelli
President, advertising sales
Company: Fox News
2016 Ad Revenue: $930.3 million*
Outlook: Gambelli joins Fox News next week (May 22) from Horizon Media and will run ad sales for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. Fox News’ ratings are higher than ever and it seems to have weathered the fallout from sexual harassment complaints about former host Bill O’Reilly, that lead to an advertiser boycott of his show.

Ed Georger
executive VP, advertising sales and digital media
Company: Crown Media Family Networks
2016 Ad Revenue: $435.4 million*
Outlook: With its squeaky-clean family programming, Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have been among the few cable networks growing ratings and ad revenue. The formula is potent around the holidays, so Hallmark is sending not only Christmas greetings but courting advertisers for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, as well as growing topical franchises such as the Kitten Bowl on Super Sunday and its Meow Madness during the NCAA Basketball tournament.

Laura Molen, Mark Marshall
Executive VP, lifestyle and Hispanic advertising; Executive VP, entertainment advertising
Company: NBCUniversal
2016 Ad Revenue: $3.566 billion**
Outlook: NBCUniversal has been thinning its cable network herd, with Esquire and Cloo going away, but it will never run out of Kardashians. The company is rebranding its Syfy network and fortifying its entry in the kids market by turning preschool-oriented Sprout into the broader-based Universal Kids, which will draw on DreamWorks Animation. The cable networks will again be part of NBCU’s overall portfolio in a single presentation on May 15.

Sean Moran
Head of marketing and partner solutions
Company: Viacom
2016 Ad Revenue: $3.808 billion**
Outlook: Moran, who replaced Jeff Lucas last year, is aggressively selling new CEO Bob Bakish’s plan to turn around Viacom and reverse its shrinking ad revenue. Viacom has consolidated its advanced advertising unit with its traditional sales force and is one of the founders of the Open AP consortium, which aims to shift media sales from falling ratings to the strong sales that result from precision-targeted ad campaigns.

Peter Olsen
Executive VP, advertising sales
Company: A+E Networks
2016 Ad Revenue: $1.633 billion*
Outlook: A+E’s networks — led by A&E, History and Lifetime — are trying to recapture their mojo, taking some big swings by adding top names to its programming lineup. New projects feature Katie Couric, Rob Lowe and Kevin Hart. The company is also in the sports business with the National Women’s Soccer League, whose games will be televised by Lifetime. A+E is also pushing its ad agency, branded content and data-driven targeting capabilities.

Ben Price
President, advertising sales
Company: Discovery Communications
2016 Ad Revenue: $1.69 billion**
Outlook: Price succeeded B&C Hall of Famer Joe Abruzzese. Discovery is spending more money on original programming and boosting services it offers advertisers to help them reach viewers who are watching programming on digital devices. It is also willing to guarantee cross-platform audiences based on metrics it generates on its own. Discovery is also looking to put clients into virtual reality experiences.

Donna Speciale
President, advertising sales
Company: Turner Broadcasting
2016 Ad Revenue: $4.178 billion**
Outlook: Turner is in the midst of rebranding its two big cable entertainment networks with bolder original programming. Those originals are running with fewer commercial interruptions to create a better environment for viewers and advertisers. TruTV has been running half the commercials and resulting ratings and ad recall have been positive. Though labeled “Fake News” by President Trump, CNN has posted real ratings and generated huge ad revenue gains even after the election as the administration makes must-see news daily.

Jon Steinlauf
President, Advertising sales
Company: Scripps Networks Interactive
2016 Ad Revenue: $2.029 billion**
Outlook: Scripps Networks’ unique brand of lifestyle programming has flourished as a comfortable destination in uncertain times for viewers and for advertisers. HGTV was one of the top-rated networks in all of cable last year and the company is looking to expand its winning recipe to digital, both by creating short-form online videos and by making deals with Hulu and Snapchat that will help it reach younger viewers.