Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox company is assigning a single executive to oversee all of the ad sales related to its broad array of television properties, the latest signal that marketers want fewer barriers between broadcast and cable advertising opportunities and the digital extensions related to them.
Toby Byrne, who has been known in recent years as the overseer of ad sales for the Fox broadcast network and its sister Fox Sports unit, was named president of ad sales for the company’s Fox Networks Group, which encompasses not only the broadcast outlet but a growing cable-network portfolio that includes FX, FXX, Fox Sports 1 and more. Byrne will continue to report to Randy Freer, Fox Networks Group’s president and chief operating officer.
Byrne will not oversee ad-sales functions at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, which are part of a separate operation at 21st Century Fox. Paul Rittenberg supervises ad sales for those networks.
In making the move, 21st Century Fox is taking up a stance already embraced by such outlets as NBCUniversal, which in the fall of 2012 named Linda Yaccarino to supervise advertising sales across the company in the belief that placing all assets under a single executive would encourage more cross-media sales, and thus more revenue. At a time when TV audiences continue to splinter thanks to the rise of broadband-distributed video streamed to mobile devices, Madison Avenue recognizes it must chase these crowds across more kinds of media. The days of cable networks, digital sites and broadcast outlets owned by the same company working independently of each other are quickly coming to an end.
“The ad marketplace has changed dramatically in just the last few years,” said Byrne, in a prepared statement. “We no longer live in a linear, single-stream environment, and we need to structure our sales organization to thrive in the evolving media marketplace. By combining the best attributes of our broadcast, sports, cable and digital sales organizations, we will better serve our clients in developing impactful marketing solutions.”
Lou LaTorre, who supervises ad sales for Fox Networks’ cable portfolio, will report to Byrne. It does not seem likely that a new senior executive will be promoted at Fox Broadcasting, where Jean Rossi, a company veteran who was executive vice president of ad sales at Fox, retired in August.
Byrne has been with Fox for almost two decades, but came to wider notice in 2010, when he replaced Jon Nesvig, a longtime Murdoch lieutenant who supervised ad sales at Fox Broadcasting as the outlet transformed itself from a start-up to a media powerhouse.
Byrne originally joined the company in early 1996 as an account services representative. He was made an account executive in December of that year, became a vice president in 2003, and was promoted to supervising Eastern sales in 2006. He was named President of Sales for Fox Broadcasting in 2010. Prior to joining Fox, Byrne was a media buyer at BBDO in New York. He is a graduate of Georgetown University.