×

Discovery Ad Sales Veteran Ben Price Will Leave Company After Upfront

Ben Price, the ad-sales executive who rose to oversee all of Discovery Communications U.S. ad sales as part of a 25-plus-year career, will step down from his post, the latest change at the large media company in the wake of its recent merger with Scripps Networks.

Following a remarkable 28-year career at Discovery, Ben Price has decided to leave the company at the conclusion of the upcoming Upfront selling season. Ben has been instrumental in building Discovery’s strong reputation in the marketplace with clients and agency partners, securing major ad sales agreements across all of our brands, and mentoring and developing hundreds of ad sales executives in his nearly 30 years with the company,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav in a recent memo to staffers. “Most importantly, Ben is a class act…one of the most trusted and well-regarded ad sales executives in the business and one of the most beloved longstanding leaders at our company.”

When Discovery completed its nearly $12 billion buy of Scripps in March, forming a new company known as Discovery Inc., Jon Steinlauf, the Scripps ad-sales chief, was given the role of chief U.S. advertising sales officer, and Price reported to him. In an interview, Price said he “decided to resign a few weeks ago,” and seek other opportunities closer to his family in California. Price has for the past few years worked out of of New York while his family stayed on the U.S. west coast. He will remain with Discovery until the company completes its ad sales in the industry’s annual “upfront,” when U.S. TV outlets work to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming program cycle.

“I’m looking forward to working with Jon to helping the team through its first joint upfront selling season, and then also facilitating a transition with the team,” Price said. “Our business has evolved, and there are a lot of intriguing opportunities out there.”

When Price first joined the company, it was known best for its flagship network, Discovery Channel. Over the years, however, he has worked to connect advertisers to a broader range of the company’s cable networks. He helped develop an event that aligned the 20th Century Fox movie “Ice Age” with both Discovery Channel and Animal Planet; connected Red Lobster with the signature series “Deadliest Catch”; and saw home-improvement retailer Lowe’s woven into both the original launch of the TLC series “Trading Spaces” as well as its 2018 reboot.

His departure is the most recent in a series of senior executive changes among the company’s ad-sales staff. Price succeeded Joseph Abruzzese in July of 2016. Scott Felenstein, another senior Discovery ad-sales executive, left the company in April of last year. Sharon O’Sullivan, an executive vice president who had been with Discovery since 1999, left the company in early 2017. And Paul Guyardo, who had been named the company’s chief commercial officer in 2015, a new role that oversaw ad sales, left Discovery late last year in advance of the merger. Price said the company has many veteran sales executives who remain active among its ranks. “We have put together a pretty strong ad-sales organization over the last several years,” he said.

Discovery faces a unique challenge in the upfront. Media buyers and other TV-ad executives note that Scripps programming has long been able to command higher pricing from sponsors, owing to the narrower focus of outlets like HGTV and Food Network, which often attract a core of endemic advertisers interested in food and home improvement. Now, these executives suggest, the company is trying to extend that pricing to content on the various Discovery cable networks, which typically attract a wider array of general-market advertisers.

 

 

 

 

More TV

  • Democratic Presidential Candidates, former New York

    Ninth Democratic Debate Draws Record 19.7 Million Viewers

    The ninth Democratic debate of this election cycle, which saw candidates tear into former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in his first appearance, was the most-watched ever, drawing just under 20 million total viewers. Wednesday night’s feisty affair, which aired across MSNBC and NBC News, comfortably beat the previous record of 15.7 million viewers [...]

  • steven universe

    'Steven Universe' Sets Final 10 Episodes on Cartoon Network

    The “Steven Universe” saga appears to be coming to a conclusion. The first of the final 10 episodes of the Cartoon Network original animated series will debut March 6 at 7 p.m., the cabler announced Thursday. The run will end March 27 with a four-part series finale. Though the next batch of episodes is set [...]

  • In this image released, general views

    Jennifer Khoury, Adam Miller Elevated in New Roles at Comcast

    Two top communications executives at Comcast Corp., Jennifer Khoury and Adam Miller, were given broader roles at the company that will make them the top architects of the entertainment giant’s strategy in how it portrays itself to the public and other constituencies. Khoury, a veteran of public relations strategy at Comcast’s cable operations, was named [...]

  • SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE:

    'So You Think You Can Dance' Renewed for Season 17 at Fox

    “So You Think You Can Dance” has been renewed for a 17th season at Fox. Bailey Munoz was named the winner of the most recent season of the dance competition series. Munoz, a 19 year old break dancer, won $250,000, a cover spot on “Dance Spirit” magazine, and the title of America’s Favorite Dancer. Auditions [...]

  • Mandy Moore

    Mandy Moore on Why She's Returning to Music, 20 Years After Hitting It Big

    Mandy Moore, of “This Is Us” fame, seemed to have said “that’s not me” when it came to making music anymore. But she was just biding her time, waiting for the right moment — and, she says, the right supportive relationship — to resume recording after dropping out in the late 2000s. The 35-year-old actress, [...]

  • Westworld Season 3

    HBO Releases Trailer for 'Westworld' Season 3

    A month away from the third season premiere of HBO’s “Westworld,” and the premium cabler has released a new trailer. “I was born into this world, and my first memories of it are pain,” says Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, as she enters a new realm. “For my kind, there was one place we were never [...]

  • Logan Lerman Jordan Peele Al Pacino

    Al Pacino and Carol Kane Had a ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ Reunion on the ‘Hunters’ Set

    Nearly 45 years after Al Pacino and Carol Kane appeared in Sidney Lumet’s classic film “Dog Day Afternoon,” an Amazon Prime Video series about Nazi-hunters in 1977 New York City has brought them back together. Go figure. “I’m proud to be working with him again,” Kane told Variety at the “Hunters” premiere on Wednesday night [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content