CBS Sales Chief Abruzzese Moves to Discovery

CBS sales president Joe Abruzzese’s decision to join Discovery Networks as president of ad sales last week was hailed by media buyers as historic and a boost to cable. They predicted the veteran seller’s penchant for cross-platform deals at CBS will be seen in his new post.

Abruzzese, who spent 22 years at CBS, is the first acting broadcast network sales chief to go straight to cable sales. He was lured by Discovery president Billy Campbell, who wants to stem declining household ratings and win back upscale audiences.

“With Campbell’s vision and his relationship with Abruzzese, there is great opportunity,” said Bob Flood, svp, director of electronic media, Optimedia International. “Being able to secure someone like Joe is a good sign for where Discovery is headed.”

Abruzzese described his move as “going from one great brand to another.” As he did at CBS, Abruz zese plans to grow Discovery’s value by creating more cross-platform sales packages and program-specific sponsorships sold via entitlements, bookends and product integration. Discovery has already dabbled in the area with Taco Bell’s sponsorship of Monster Garage and Proc ter & Gamble’s sponsorship of TLC’s Trading Spaces.

“Joe brings that culture from CBS,” said Pam Zucker, svp/group director, MediaVest, noting the use of such tactics in Survivor. “Discovery has always been forward-thinking about marketing sponsorships.”

As for CBS, running neck and neck with NBC for No. 1 honors in broadcast, buyers predicted no falloff.

“Joe goes out on top,” said Marc Goldstein, CEO of MindShare North America. “The network had a great upfront, and he’s leaving a very strong team in place. CBS is well-positioned for the future no matter who replaces him.” —Megan Larson

and John Consoli