×

Fox Networks Considers Hiring Outsider to Run Ad Sales

Fox Networks is considering hiring an outsider to run its advertising sales, a signal of the importance executives at the 21st Century Fox unit have placed on the position.

Fox Networks has been without a formal ad-sales chief since September, when Toby Byrne, who led ad-sales efforts at Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports and other parts of the unit, stepped down. Since that time, Randy Freer, Fox Networks’ chief operating officer, has led the company’s Madison Avenue outreach, aided by Bruce Lefkowitz, executive vice president of ad sales; Danielle Maged, executive vice president of global partnerships; and Joe Marchese, president of advance adverting products. Fox Networks also encompasses such operations as FX and the company’s international networks.

Should the company hire an executive from the outside, Fox would buck what has been the norm in recent months. At a time when many media companies’ ad-sales veterans are leaving, NBCUniversal, Discovery Communications, Viacom and AMC Networks have all found successors from within their ranks. Disney’s ABC in March will face a similar situation, when its ad sales president, Geri Wang, retires from the role.

Fox has tapped MediaLink, a media-industry consultancy run by Michael Kassan, to search for potential successors to Byrne, according to five people with knowledge of the situation. One of the candidates has been Adam Bain, the former chief operating officer of Twitter,  three of these people said. At present, Bain is not expected to take the job.

Fox Networks declined to make executives available for comment.

Fox has found success in the past by luring someone who wasn’t homegrown. In 1989, executives at the fledgling Fox Broadcasting wooed Jon Nesvig, a senior ad sales executive at NBC, to oversee relationships with Madison Avenue when the Fox was airing just two nights a week. Nesvig served as sort of adult in the room, so to speak, as younger executives tried to transform Rupert Murdoch’s seemingly quixotic notion of launching a fourth broadcast network into reality. Nesvig would grow to wield much authority at Fox and become a consigliere of sorts to Murdoch, now the executive chairman of the parent company.

The industry has changed since that time. Selling TV ads has grown significantly more challenging. The jobs now encompass broadcast, cable and digital, as advertisers seek what is known as “cross platform” approaches so they can woo an audience that is splintered across linear TV and on-demand streaming. A rising generation of viewers haa grown accustomed to ignoring ads or seeing fewer of them.

“The future is ad-light or ad-free, making the job of an ad salesperson fundamentally challenging,” said Richard Greenfield, a media-industry analyst with BTIG.

Fox has made moves to shift with the times. The company has placed more emphasis on digital viewership, purchasing ad-tech company TrueX in December of 2014. Its leader, Marchese, has articulated a  strategy of creating ads that reward broadband users for their attention, letting them see special content or giving them a particular offer or benefit in exchange for watching a commercial.  Marchese is said to be a possible internal candidate for the larger ad-sales role, according to people familiar with the situation.

Fox has also worked to develop offers that help embed advertisers in programs. In July, Fox Broadcasting hired Laura Carracioli, a veteran executive with a long history of working to lace advertisers’ products and messages into content. Fox last season won notice for embedding Pepsi into a three-episode plot arc in “Empire.”

More TV

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content