After presiding over what NBC Sports called the biggest media event in U.S. history, Seth Winter is stepping down next month as NBC Sports Group ad sales chief.
The evp of ad sales for NBC Sports will stay with the company as an advisor through 2018, helping the network navigate its three major sports events that year: the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, which will air on Telemundo. No replacement has been named.
Winter steps aside just weeks after presiding over $1.23 billion in national ad sales for the Rio Olympics, well ahead of the $1 billion in ad sales for the 2012 London Olympics. "We've surpassed what we thought was at one point an unobtainable threshold," Winter told reporters shortly before the Olympics began.
But according to Nielsen Media Research, prime-time coverage of Rio 2016 delivered an average nightly audience of 24.5 million live-plus-same-day viewers across 17 nights (down 21 percent from London's 31.1 million average). And the 14.5 household rating was a 17 percent decline from 2012, and far below the "high teens" household rating that Winter guaranteed advertisers.
A source said Winter's departure had nothing to do with the Summer Olympics missed guarantees.
"For the last 11 years, Seth has done a tremendous job developing unparalleled relationships with clients and marketers and building the best sports sales team in the media industry. Thanks to his leadership, we've achieved sales records for the 2012 London Olympics, Super Bowl XLVI (2012), 2014 Sochi Olympics, Super Bowl XLIX (2015) and the 2016 Rio Olympics," Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, said in a memo to employees.
"[NBC Sports chairman] Mark Lazarus said it best when he noted that 'Seth has been an invaluable part of NBC Sports. He has been a leader for how we present ourselves in the marketplace and work with our league and marketing partners. I have never worked with someone who loved his product, team, and clients more than Seth. We are all in his debt.'"
Winter joined NBC in 2000, as vp, sales at MSNBC. For the past decade, he's overseen sports sales for major events like the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, NHL, NASCAR, Triple Crown horse racing and the PGA Tour.
Prior to arriving at NBC, he spent a year as vp and GM at WRBW-TV in Orlando, and worked at New York's WOR-TV in New York for 19 years.
Winter is the third long-tenured ad sales chief to step down in recent months. In late July, Discovery Communications announced Joe Abruzzese would be retiring after 46 years in the business. Less than two weeks after wrapping Viacom's upfront in June, Jeff Lucas left Viacom after a decade and moved to Snapchat as vp and head of global sales.