Winner

Outdoor Channel
Outdoor Channel has been quite a growth story recently, so much so that Kroenke Sports & Entertainment this year pulled out every stop to tear the net away from Sportsman Channel owner Intermedia Partners, which had been a shoe-in to acquire Outdoor and potentially corner the market in cable outdoorsman programming. It didn’t happen. And a major reason why these 2 conglomerates fought so hard over Outdoor was the net’s stellar affiliate sales team led by the affable and trustworthy Randy Brown. This team lives to blow away expectations. For example, its goal in ’12 was to add 1.5mln subs; it added nearly 3mln, largely due to the efforts of sales domino Mark Romano, who oversees the Eastern Division, but also because of this team’s cohesion and dedication. During the same period, Outdoor Channel HD added 3.2mln subs across 507 cable systems, a 32% gain. What’s even more impressive is that this team of go-to sales mavericks operates in an always challenging environment without the benefit of retrans leverage or multiple networks to bundle together into take-it-or-leave-it deals. Rather, Outdoor’s sales professionals must rely on content, demographics and a solid business case to persuade distributors. It’s also a network that has consistently supported industry causes and organizations, including ACA. As NCTC evp, programming Judy Meyka describes it, Outdoor houses “a highly capable team of sales executives who are effective in their roles and a pleasure to interact within any setting.” It doesn’t get much better than that.  
 
Honorable Mentions

Disney/ESPN
While it’s always fashionable for distributors to bash Disney/ESPN when it comes to programming costs, the quality and creative innovation of this sales team led by evp, affiliate sales & marketing Sean Bratches simply ranks among the best in the business. So there. 
 
NBCUniversal
Despite a complicated merger with Comcast that led to significant executive changes in both its affiliate and ad sales departments, NBCU continues to run a tight ship under the direction of evp, content distribution Matt Bond and pres, ad sales Linda Yaccarino.
 
RLTV
This scrappy net targeting Baby Boomers has always found a way to thrive, and that’s largely because of its small but capable affiliate sales team. On the heels of completing a huge Time Warner Cable/Bright House deal, these professionals also executed 12 opt-in deals with NCTC members and drove continued growth at Comcast systems nationwide.
 
 

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