NBCUniversal is reorganizing its sales structure under Linda Yaccarino, and now the network's spots, integrations and sponsorships will be grouped not by media type but by content—and yes, it will be formalizing the very profitable upfront strategy of tying together cable and broadcast groups. New ad sales departments will be grouped into entertainment (which includes NBC and the major cable networks), live programming (sports and news), lifestyle and digital video.
Accordingly, Dan Lovinger has been promoted to evp, ad sales entertainment group, which will encompass NBC proper, USA, Syfy and WWE. Seth Winter has been boosted to evp of the ad sales news and sports group, essentially adding oversight of the news group to his sports responsibilities. Lauren Molen will head up the lifestyle factor in the equation as evp, with oversight of Bravo, Oxygen, E!, and, oddly, mystery and horror networks Cloo and Chiller. Scott Schiller's role as evp of digital ad sales will expand to include the news group's digital ad sales, as well—the other candidate for that gig would have been Peter Naylor, who left the company last week. All will report to Yaccarino.
The company is also creating a "client solutions group" headed by Alison Tarrant (about whom Yaccarino has been enthusiastic), which will oversee all sales marketing for NBCU. Sponsorships, integrations and promotions will be worked out with clients through that group. John Shea, NBCU's CMO, will lead new content innovation and creative marketing teams.
The next question, of course, is how buyers will react to the changes. It's no secret that synergy between NBCU's platforms allowed the network to drive harder bargains than usual this last upfront season, and the new divisions would seem to double down on that strategy, making the company not only united across the broadcast/cable divide, but across the borders between invididual, similarly-branded networks. The elephant in the room is NBC proper's primetime slate—as the network finds it footing with The Black List but flails on Thursday nights, expect buyers who want inventory on high-profile cablers to be watching anxiously for new hits at midseason.
The reorg could also be an opportunity for brands to easily purchase inventory across demographics and content types rather than straight networks. If a particular kind of soapy reality programming appeals to your client, for example, you can buy similar shows up and down the portfolio (Oxygen, Bravo, digital, wherever) from Molen.
“In a world of growing fragmentation and as scale has become more and more elusive, we’ve clustered our networks to capitalize on the strength of our assets," said Yaccarino in a statement.