ABC Sales Chief Mike Shaw to Exit

After having steered ABC’s ad sales efforts for the last decade, Mike Shaw is transitioning away from the network.

Shaw, who since September 2000 has served as president, sales and marketing, ABC Television Network, will cede his day-to-day oversight of the network’s ad sales business by the end of the year.

In order to ensure a smooth succession, Shaw will advise Disney/ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney on sales and marketing strategy. A replacement for Shaw has not been identified, although ABC is expected to name a new ad sales chief “in the near future.”

Late Monday evening, media buyers speculated that ABC may look beyond its borders for a successor. Meanwhile, one rival ad sales executive suggested that ABC had a capable candidate in Shaw lieutenant Geri Wang, a 19-year veteran who currently serves as senior vp of primetime sales.

In a statement, the 55-year-old Shaw said he was stepping down in order to “pursue a number of personal goals.” He went on to add that his 10-year stint as ABC’s head of ad sales has been “the highlight of my career.”

Shaw joined ABC in 1999 as executive vp, national sales manager. Before joining ABC, Shaw was executive vp, ad sales, Buena Vista Television, where he sold inventory for such syndie fare as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and Siskel & Ebert.

Sweeney was effusive in her praise of Shaw, who is widely known as a hard-nosed negotiator and an advocate of more precise audience-measurement standards. “Mike is a visionary ad sales executive whose efforts have helped reshape our industry, most recently through his championing the live-plus-seven and live-plus-C3 metrics that are now the currency of our business,” Sweeney said. “While we’re sorry that he’s decided to step back from the day-to-day, we’re thrilled that he’s left us with such an amazing team and that he’ll remain involved as a strategic advisor.”

When not patrolling the front lines of the currency debate, Shaw regularly led the charge in the upfront marketplace, taking in $1.9 billion in the compromised 2009-10 bazaar. The previous year, Shaw landed $2.4 billion in the prime-time commitments, at cost per-thousand increases of around 9 percent, the highest among the Big Four broadcast nets.

Shaw said he would continue to play an active role at ABC, and that he was looking forward to working “on a number of projects for the company over the next year.”