The People Who Sell…
In cable, it’s all about sales. Cable operators sell to consumers. Programmers sell to cable operators and advertisers. Vendors sell to everybody. When it works, everybody wins as sales people educate and persuade, and the industry continues to grow. These are some of the people and teams who make it all work. And once again, we salute them.
Sales Person of the Year
VP and Above
Scott Collins – EVP, National Advertising Sales, AMC, WE tv & Wedding Central
Rainbow Advertising Sales Corporation
Known as one of the most innovative sales people in cable, Scott Collins’ portfolio has continued to grow. He joined Rainbow Media’s RASCO in ’08 to sell WE tv. With his success at WE tv, RASCO added sales duties for Wedding Central to Collins’ duties in ’09. The following year he gained responsibility for AMC sales. As his duties have grown, so has his staff. The size of Collins’ team has increased by 35% in just 3 years. But that growth tracks well with his sales increases. Since Collins joined Rainbow, WE tv’s on-screen advertising revenue has jumped 72%, despite the sluggish economy. And ad revenue for WE tv’s VOD and online categories jumped 118% nd 63%, respectively, from ’09-’10. And during the worst part of the recession, WE’s upfront commitments doubled in ’10, adding General Mills and L’Oreal. But it’s not all about the numbers for Collins. One of his proudest accomplishments is the collaboration between WE tv and General Mills’ Yoplait on “Save Lids to Save Lives,” the yogurt brand’s breast cancer awareness campaign. WE’s role in the initiative captured a CTAM Mark Award.
Gene George – EVP, Worldwide Distribution
As the guy who oversees all domestic and international programming sales for Starz, George has a big job. Good thing selling is in his DNA: His father was the founder of the American Film Marketing Assn, which runs the American Film Market, so he has no problem churning out stellar performance with a small staff of only 6 salespeople, who have had their hands full recently as Starz remakes itself into a premium creator of original content such as the “Spartacus” series and more recently “Camelot.” In fact, George was able to sell Spartacus into 100 countries, partly by blowing them away with incredible service. One example: He secured entertaining and spirited on-air tags from the Spartacus cast for dozens of international broadcasters. “He is not only out for the sale, but the right sale,” said Richard Rohrback, vp, programming & acquisitions at LAPTV, Latin America. “He is patient and dependable.” BSKYB UK acquisitions mgr Julia Stuart puts it this way: “He has a fantastic knowledge of the content he is selling and a real passion for it, but also a complete understanding of our needs as an international buyer and an ability to accommodate them on every level.” Yep. That’s what it takes. And George has it.
Kathleen Kayse – EVP, Ad Sales
OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
Prior to the launch of OWN, Kathleen Kayse’s goal was to secure seven major advertisers for the network, despite the economic recession. Mounting a strategic education effort for advertisers, Kayse eventually signed nine advertisers prior to the Jan 1 ’11 launch, including heavyweights like Walmart, P&G, Toyota, Kohl’s, General Motors, Nissan, Target, Kellogg’s and Chase.
Mark Rejtig – SVP, National Sales
Known for his friendly persistence, Mark Rejtig is a “born negotiator,” says Laura Nathanson, EVP, Ad Sales, ABC Family and a member of CableFAX’s Sales Hall of Fame. She also calls him “inspirational and tireless… and he always closes the deal.” His philosophy, Nathanson says, is that he doesn’t try to “get the better of a client, but to make sure he secures a deal that works for both the client and the company.”
Donna Stephens – SVP, Advertising Sales, HGTV Scripps Networks Interactive
Most salespeople only sell, but Donna Stephens sells and creates. In the midst of a recession, she convinced Sears to enlarge a concept for 4 specials into an entirely new series, “HGTV All-American Handyman.” The series bested expectations and has been renewed for ’11. “It all started with Donna and the ad sales team,” says Jon Steinlauf, SVP, Ad Sales, Scripps Networks.
Sales Person of the Year
Below VP Level
Helen Hauser – Director, Ad Sales
Four years ago, Helen Hauser faced a choice: Plow forward into her 3rd decade in local TV ad sales, comfortable with her vast Rolodex of contacts and associates, or take a chance on cable. To cable’s benefit, she took that chance, joining Ovation where she built relationships from scratch and proved to big agencies like Mullen and MediaVest that she’ll work tirelessly to meet their needs. Her flexibility and creativity became key as she navigated an uncertain economy while selling a network that until ’10 was unrated by Nielsen. Despite those challenges, she has exceeded internal goals every year. Sometimes it’s good to take a chance. We’re glad she did.
Deb Fleischman – Major Accounts Executive
The numbers don’t lie: Fleischer, who sells Charter services to B2B clients, regularly finishes in the top 3 out of more than 50 sales execs and routinely delivers more than 150% over her annual targets. Said one client: “She is the epitome of customer service… Even if we are asking for the impossible, Deb tries to make it possible.”
Sales Team of the Year
National Cable Sales
Turner Broadcasting System Inc Ad Sales
Under the direction of industry veteran and pres, sales, distribution and sports David Levy, Turner’s team continues to outshine so many others with its dedication to excellence. Consider a few milestones stemming from the ’10-’11 upfronts: Under evp/COO Turner Ad Sales, Marketing & Acquisitions Linda Yaccarino (who joins our Sales Hall of Fame this year), TBS, TNT and truTV achieved rate parity with broadcast TV in the wake of its Conan O’Brien acquisition. Meanwhile, evp/COO CNN Ad Sales & Marketing Greg D’Alba traversed a tough cable news environment, getting both CPM and volume increases. Meanwhile, John O’Hara, vp/COO Cartoon Network/Adult Swim Ad Sales & Marketing, re-energized the toy segment while breaking new business with the apparel and retail sectors. Turner Sports Ad Sales & Marketing and its evp Jon Diament continued an impressive run, selling out much inventory across MLB, PGA, NASCAR and the NBA—as well as NCAA March Madness in partnership with CBS Sports. And the newly created Turner/SI Digital Ad Sales unit under evp Walker Jacobs came blazing out of the gate, with virtual sell outs of March Madness on Demand 5 weeks before it began. We could go on, but we’re out of space. Expect more great things from this incredible team in ’11!
Since the net relaunched in ’07, the Ovation ad sales team has shown resilience and enormous creativity in selling a network that’s only Nielsen rated as of last year. Even before that, from ’09 to ’10, these sales professionals grew the number of advertisers by 21% and the average deal size by 28%, which increased revenue by 55% during that period. And all this with an advertiser churn rate under 10%.
Sales Team of the Year
Local and Regional Ad Sales
Fox Sports South/SportSouth
What a team. Responsible for selling ad time in more than 1K live professional and collegiate sporting events on 2 nets, these execs cover a territory over 7 Southern states and act as the broadcast agent for the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers; Charlotte Bobcats; Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators—not to mention college content from ACC, SEC, Southern Conference USA, Big 12 and PAC-10. Whew. That’s a lot of selling across a diverse slate of sports content. And this team does it exceedingly well. For example, when O’Charley’s Restaurants sponsored “SEC Gridiron Live,” its sales climbed 5.5%, with foot traffic up 6.6% year-over-year. “The impact was huge,” said Nancy Kelly-Culbertson, O’Charley’s VP, marketing. “We got in on the ground floor of something exciting.” Meanwhile, a recent partnership with Blimpie Restaurants has grown 500% in just 2 years. Fox evokes loyalty and results by extending client messaging through in-game customized features and marketing plans tailored specifically to each situation. For example, when Sherwin Williams was hurting from the collapse of the housing market, it turned to Fox, which renamed its in-game pitch tracker replay during Braves games “Painting the Corners, with Sherwin Williams,” giving the company big exposure during Sun games. And when NASCAR wanted to increase attendance at its Hall of Fame, Fox created a flighted spot buy that quickly evolved into a year-long partnership including integrated branding and digital elements—increasing the ’10 buy by some 700%.
Time Warner Cable Media
Despite a still reeling economy, Time Warner Cable’s ad sales team managed to increase ad revenues by 25.5% in ’10 compared to the prior year. Part of the team’s success stems from its aggressive efforts, including the “Summertime is Cable Time” outreach initiative to reinforce its presence with local ad agencies.
Affiliate Sales Person of the Year Large Networks
Patty Lumpkin – SVP, Affiliate Marketing
Scripps Networks Interactive
It’s easy to focus on the sale and forget about client maintenance. It’s also easy to lose clients that way. So in an ode to those who keep affiliates happy, we recognize Scripps’ Patty Lumpkin, whose creativity and vision helped make ’10 an especially successful one for Scripps. One challenge was the rebrand from Fine Living Network to The Cooking Channel, but Lumpkin took it head on and provided everything affiliates needed for a smooth transition, including everything from changing IPG logos to delivering switch kits 2 months before launch, as well as other hand holding that led to one of the most successful re-launches in cable history. Get this: On launch day, Lumpkin and her team received not one call, email or text from affiliates. Why? Because she Scripps made sure all their questions were answered well before the re-launch. In addition, Lumpkin handled promos related to Scripps’ takeover of Travel Channel and folded the net into Scripps’ “Real Rewards” affiliate incentive program. And despite juggling all these tasks, Lumpkin also took the opportunity to restructure her team into 3 groups focusing on home, food and travel/entertainment—all in an effort to strengthen affiliate sales support.
Jim Babchak – Director of Distribution, Field Sales
With some 50 deals under his belt in ’10, Babchak has helped drive distribution of AETN nets like Lifetime, Bio Channel, History, Military History and others. “Working with Jim is uniquely professional and personal at the same time,” said Bob Watson, vp, programming and new business development at Time Warner Cable NY/NJ. “He always comes with all the information you could want to know about the discussion topic, anticipating every question or concern.”
Justin Connolly – SVP, National Accounts
With responsibility over domestic distribution and licensing efforts for Disney’s linear nets, broadband and VOD content within Disney’s Media Networks Group, Connolly has been quite the dealmaker. Most recently, he oversaw the comprehensive agreement between Disney and Time Warner Cable.
Brent Scott – VP, National Accounts
Scripps Networks Interactive
Scott oversees corporate relations and contract negotiations for Scripps’ lifestyle nets: HGTV, DIY Network, Food, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and GAC. He recently took a lead role on broadband syndication. “Brent is a creative and innovative dealmaker with a sharp eye on doing what is best for Scripps, while balancing the best interest of our clients,” said Lynne Costantini, Scripps’ evp, affiliate sales & mktg.
Affiliate Sales Person of the Year Emerging Networks
Alyse Ramer – Director of Affiliate Sales
Southern Region – Sportsman Channel
Anyone who knows Alyse will attest to her passion and enthusiasm, but it’s her high level of creativity in sales that often gets the big results. In early ’10, as she was struggling to nail down a meeting with an exec at Comcast Pittsburgh, Ramer decided to order him a pizza and write on the box, “For Pizza’s sake… let’s meet!” She got the meeting. It’s that kind of bold initiative that has been a hallmark of Ramer’s career as she advocates for a small, unrated indie net that continues to make strides even in today’s tough operator environment. Ramer just powers through it all, closing several systems in her region in ’10 and gaining nearly 500K subs in the process. And despite the tendency of MSOs to favor putting Sportsman on a sports tier, Ramer has convinced some 75% of her launches to put the net on digital basic—a huge feat of persuasion in this market. In those meetings, she brings plenty of data to bear about the power of the sportsman market in each locale, as well as the net’s commitment to conservation of land and species. Colleen Levy, vp of marketing at Cox Communications, LA, recalls Ramer’s persistence coupled with preparation. “She jumped through hurdles and focused on what we needed as a customer to make the deal happen,” she said. “And afterwards, she continued to deliver marketing support for us and make good on the commitments she made during the negotiation process.” Sounds simple, but it’s not. Ramer’s a pro.
Jeff Brown – Director of Affiliate Sales
Midwest/Western Region – Sportsman Channel
Ramer’s counterpart in the West also displays much of the same moxy. One example: He staked out a golf course at 6am on day just to “accidentally” bump into a Comcast svp he heard would be there and secured a meeting for the next week. He closed more than 50 deals in ’10.
Tommy Bullough – Affiliate Sales Account Executive
A dogged road warrior, Bullough recently took over RLTV’s Western region and has overseen RLTV’s many Comcast rollouts in the West, continuing to sign new deals and work with NCTC affiliates individually in the absence of a NCTC deal in place. And Bullough is known for follow-up and customer service as well.
Affiliate Sales Team
Of the Year – Large
Scripps Networks Interactive, Affiliate Sales Team
The 17-person team led by evp Lynne Costantini focused on rebranding Fine Living Network to Cooking Channel. Perhaps the best measure of their success is that Cooking was the largest channel launch in cable history. The other major success for the team in ’10 was integrating Travel Channel into the Scripps portfolio. Interestingly, Travel had not worked closely with affiliates before. The team successfully deployed two promotions tied into Scripps’ Real Rewards Program for affiliates; this resulted in a 10% jump in brand value year-over-year.
Turner Network Sales Executive Team
COO Coleman Breland and his team led the charge on TV Everywhere, taking it from a concept into a living, breathing, revenue-generating business. Brokered by the team, Turner’s deal with Comcast offers cable subs online access to content from TNT, TBS, CNN, HLN, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
Affiliate Sales Team of the Year –
Small and Mid-Size
RLTV Affiliate Sales Team
When you look at how much RLTV’s 4-person Affiliate Sales Team accomplished last year you have to wonder whether these people eat, sleep or see their families. They serviced all MSOs, divisional, regional and system offices in the U.S.; were active in WICT, NAMIC and CTAM; attended local/regional seniors expos and events. They also continued RLTV’s roll-out and sub growth throughout every major Comcast market across the country, including attending to affiliate system set-up, sales support, call center training and system follow-up. They also negotiated numerous contracts with indie cable ops and closed a major agreement with NCTC and renewed RLTV’s pact with Verizon.
Outdoor Channel Affiliate Sales
and Marketing Team
The 16-member team expanded Outdoor globally last year, launching to homes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Closer to home, Outdoor’s HD network more than doubled last year, growing to 8.7mln homes from 4.1mln in ’09.
Rookie Sales Person of the Year
Sara Timmins – Account Executive, Affiliate Sales RLTV
Timmins was still overseeing internal data collection and database maintenance when RLTV elevated her to account exec for the East/Southeast—a gutsy move considering the tough economy and need for experienced sales people to sell an emerging network to distributors awash in cost cutting. But RLTV had faith in Timmins, who had proven herself not only personable (a key trait for any sales exec) but also meticulously schooled in RLTV’s distribution strategy. With detailed knowledge of the business, she wasted no time inking deals with new affiliates despite the bad economy—all while overseeing RLTV’s important rollout in Comcast systems in her region. Smart. Professional. Affable. She may be a rookie, but you’d hardly know it.
Serena Bhaduri – Account Executive
With huge enthusiasm and passion, Bhaduri hits her budgets and keeps accounts using a combination of hard work and limitless advocacy for the net. We won’t be surprised when she takes over the world.
Cable Sales – Miscellaneous
Jes Santoro – VP, Sales & Advanced Advertising
NBCU Cable Network Sales
It’s hard enough selling traditional advertising in this market, but Jes Santoro faces the task of selling advanced advertising in the same challenging environment. But he does it with unique skill, passion and commitment that continues to bring advanced advertising into the mainstream—and puts him on the cutting edge of the most exciting element of TV advertising today. In summer ’10, Santoro closed the 1st ever iTV ad execution on national cable with a major packaged goods brand using an RFI product developed by Canoe Ventures for use on E! and Style (the advertiser requested anonymity for competitive reasons). The offer, which involved a way for viewers to request a product sample be mailed to them, was so successful that the brand had to cut it off early because it ran out of samples. That led to a 2nd deal with the U.S. Postal Service to provide free flat-rate shipping kits in the fall of ’10, with results again exceeding expectations. RFI is only the beginning, of course. And Santoro is poised to bring even more interactivity to the ad world as the platform evolves. “The advanced television space has always been challenged with technological hurdles, unproven business models and a lot of skepticism,” notes Michael Bologna, director of emerging communications at GroupM. “Jes is among a very small group of people who continue to push through and provide ideas and solution that work for all aspects of the ecosystem. He has been one of my most trusted partners for almost eight years now.” Said Initiative vp, director of the Amphibian unit Andrew Corry: “He gets the idea that a happy client becomes a repeat client, which is good for everybody.” We agree. Keep Santoro on your radar screen.
Todd Babic – President
Upped from VP to pres last year, Babic has long commanded respect after a decade at the Ethernet tech vendor during which time annual sales exploded from $5mln to $100 in ’10. The goal for this year is $185mln in sales, and few doubt Babic can achieve it based on his track record. SMC sells to almost all of the top 15 MSOs in the U.S., an impressive feat in itself and proof that Babic will continue to shepherd the company to great achievement.
Graig Hale – Director of Business Development
Hale increased his dept’s revenue by 30% in ’10 and plans to increase it by another 40% this year. Clients continue to commit more dollars, with Sportsman Guide alone going from $20K in ’09 to $175K in ’10. Other brands like Honda, Yamaha, Arctic Cat and Bobcat have doubled ad buys from ’09. And all this despite being an unrated network. Go Hale!
Most Creative Sales Pitch
Food Network Ad Sales and Marketing
Food Network/Kellogg’s Case Study
Food Network helped consumers realize Kellogg’s Cereals aren’t just for breakfast anymore. The result was a clever campaign that urged Food’s viewers to think outside the cereal box. It included Food talent Melissa d’Arabian urging contestants during an ep of “The Next Food Network Star” (3.5mln viewers) to use six Kellogg’s cereals as integral parts of their recipes. She also hosted 30-second vignettes integrated into Food linear programming and Webisodes where d’Arabian employed Kellogg’s Cereals in her cooking. Digital extensions included exposure on Food’s YouTube channel. Kellogg’s also received major placement in issues of Food Net’s magazine, where d’Arabian’s recipes using the cereals were part of a special fold-out section in Nov and recipe cards were included in the Dec issue. Food also was a beneficiary as 20mln boxes of Kellogg’s cereals carried d’Arabian’s photo and recipes to promote a sweepstakes.
Subway Fresh Take Hotline on ESPN
It’s a mouthful to say, but every time a guest is on an ESPN show via phone, which is to say constantly, he or she joins via the Subway Fresh Take Hotline, dutifully noted before, during and after the interview by ESPN talent. Talk about putting a brand top of mind and integrating it seamlessly into the content.
Launch Team of the Year
ESPN Affiliate Sales Team
ESPN’s Authenticated Networks
While still not common today, just as short as one year ago the concept of allowing cable subscribers to watch cable networks on their computers was considered way out there. True to ESPN’s mantra of serving sports fans wherever and whenever, the network’s digital video distribution team, led by SVP Matt Murphy, was a whirl of activity last year, hammering out rights agreements and jumping technical hurdles to launch a bevy of authenticated networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Buzzer Beater. These first-ever live authenticated networks were launched most famously on Time Warner Cable. But the nets also are available to subscribers of Bright House Networks and Verizon.
Scripps Networks Interactive
Affiliate Sales & Marketing Team
Last year the team worked diligently to re-brand Fine Living Network as Cooking Channel and integrating Travel Channel into the Scripps family of media Brands. For Cooking, the team sent affiliates such a well-stocked launch kit that not a single call, text or email needed to be fielded on the launch day.
Brand Integration Team
Of the Year
Scripps Networks Interactive
HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway
In a sluggish economy, few companies are willing to take risks. Yet HGTV went ahead with its first urban residence giveaway. And what a place it was—high atop The W Hotel and Residences in NYC, the $1.5mln residence has a fantastic view of the Apple, not to mention the Statue of Liberty. Online response of 70mln page views and 15mln entries surpassed the goals of HGTV and presenting sponsors Samsung and Acura, who integrated their brands with the hip urban 18-49 demo. Indeed, a U of Central FL senior won the residence. His mother had urged him to enter.
Out of The Box
Most Creative Program
Sold to Client
The Weather Channel
Guaranteed White Christmas
Weather really outdid itself with this Sears partnership in which the net created a contest offering a lucky winner the gift of, get this… snow… on Christmas Day—not to mention a $15K cash prize. This is how it worked: Contestants could enter the contest through Weather’s Website by uploading a short video explaining why they deserved a big delivery of snow on Christmas. The net broadcast live from the winning location as the winner’s yard was transformed into a winter wonderland. As the sponsor of the stunt, Sears received massive exposure as Weather, uh… covered the event for most of the day on Dec 25.
Patrick Collins, VP, Ad Sales
Upon meeting Patrick Collins you’d be excused if the word relentless doesn’t jump to mind. “He’s more agreeable than loud or filled with bravado,” says Laura Nathanson, EVP, Ad Sales, ABC. She even describes Collins’ negotiating style as “patient persuasion.” It’s worked. A top 5 cable net in key demos, ABC Family has closed numerous sponsorships and product placements. That’s because when Collins “attacks a marketplace,” Nathanson admits, “Patrick is relentless.” The leader of a sales team of 30, he enters a negotiation “buttoned down” and “having done his homework,” Nathanson says. And “his single focus makes him a formidable negotiator,” she adds. In the end, “clients and sales people don’t want to disappoint Patrick.” Score another one for the power of patient persuasion
Steven Walsh, SVP, Local Television Sales
Steven Walsh certainly has wooed. And wowed. In just 13 months with Rentrak, Walsh expanded its TV station clients from 0 to 72 in 40 markets. Not that it was easy. “The clients were all new to him, he was new to them and he was selling a new product,” says Sinclair VP Bill Butler. Yet Steve “got busy” and was “a blur of selling,” Butler adds. Walsh combined wooing with honesty and hard work. “What makes Steve stand out is the homework he does to understand his clients’ challenges… he’s always looking out for them,” says TV Board President Steve Lanzano. Starcom Mediavest Group SVP & Research Director Helen Katz, describes Walsh as “a partner” to his clients, working to meet their needs “rather than simply selling.” Katz, Lanzano and Butler have been wooed by one of the best.