The Murdoch family’s new Fox needs Madison Avenue to buy commercials in an abundance of sports broadcasts. Seth Winter will take on the job of selling them.
Winter, the former head of NBC Sports ad sales, is joining Fox in a similar role, taking over a critical position at the company as it focuses more intently on live programming and sports content. After its planned sale of a large chunk of its assets to Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox will spin off its remaining operations – consisting largely of Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports and Fox News – into Fox Corporation, and place new emphasis on content that draws audiences together in the moment.
In recent months, Fox has been snapping up additional sports content, including the rights not only to the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” but also to World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Smackdown”; and to PBA Bowling. The company has even renewed its longtime pact with Major League Baseball and expanded its relationship with the New York Racing Association.
Winter will report to Marianne Gambelli, who was named president last year of what will be ad-sales operations at the “new” Fox. She and Winter are former colleagues. Gambelli once supervised ad sales for NBC, including NBC Sports, and Winter ran efforts to sell commercials for NBC’s broadcasts of “Sunday Night Football,” the Olympics and other sports properties. “I know from working with Seth earlier in our careers that his leadership, reputation among clients and ability to create innovative media partnerships will be invaluable additions to our existing sports sales team,” Gambelli said in a prepared statement.
Neil Mulcahy, an executive who has supervised Fox’s sports-ad outreach for years and is a veteran presence on Madison Avenue, is expected to stay with the company for another year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mulcahy will continue as executive vice president of sports ad sales for Fox, and assist Winter in a transition, then leave the company after its broadcast of Super Bowl LIV in 2020, this person said. Mulcahy, who has worked for Fox for 32 years, chose the new role and was supported by Gambelli, this person said.
Winter left NBC in October of 2016, when he was executive vice president of ad sales for NBC Sports and became a consultant to the company, a role he was expected to carry out through 2018. Variety reported talks between Fox and Winter in December. Over the years, he has had a hand in selling ads for everything from “Sunday Night Football” to National Hockey League games to Triple Crown horse racing. He has also been a general manager of an Orlando TV station.
Over the years, Winter has developed a reputation for making big bets on the power of sports properties. He has been known to start his drive to win ad money months ahead of big events and has never been afraid to ask for top dollar. Winter began his tenure at NBC in 2000, when he joined as vice president of sales at MSNBC.
“Fox Sports has an incredible portfolio of sports rights and is exceptionally well-positioned to remain the leader in sports television for many years to come,” said Winter, in a statement. “I am incredibly excited to reunite with Marianne and work closely with this truly talented group of sports executives.”