NBC Universal Cable consolidated the ad sales organizations for all of its entertainment networks-USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Bravo and Trio-and moved them into NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters at the end of the year.
The sales forces of USA and Sci Fi already were combined back when the networks were still owned by Vivendi Universal by Jeff Lucas, the former NBC sales executive who became president of sales for Universal’s cable networks in 2002. After NBC acquired the U.S. entertainment assets of Vivendi Universal Entertainment last year, Mr. Lucas was named president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment sales. As part of the new alignment, Hanna Gryncwajg, Bravo senior VP of national ad sales, is now reporting to Mr. Lucas.
It is not clear whether any jobs will be lost due to the consolidation.
The entertainment networks generated an estimated $1 billion in ad sales in 2004, according to Kagan Research.
“What it promotes is greater efficiency, and we’re targeting the message to the clients. It’s all very positive,” Mr. Lucas said.
He combined USA and Sci Fi originally because “I didn’t like the idea of having my own sales staff compete with each other for appointments,” he said. “Every agency is overworked. They don’t have enough time in the day to see everybody. So I want my guys, who are some of the best salespeople in cable, to get in there,” he said.
“Now we’re bringing Bravo on board,” he said, “once again, in cases where it works best and where the workload is manageable. I’m going to combine them so we can target the right people.”
According to Kagan, USA had $599.1 million in ad sales in 2004, Sci Fi had $276.2 million in ad sales and Bravo’s ad sales were $130.3 million.
With the combination, Kevin McAuliffe, senior VP of NBCU Cable’s branded entertainment group, will oversee the integrated advertising projects at Bravo. Bravo has already been active in integrated advertising in its reality and makeover series, including “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and the new “Queer Eye for the Straight Girl.”
Mr. Lucas said he believes in having a special team to handle integration. “You don’t want to bog the sales staff down with it, so you have this separate unit that can manage it, execute and make sure there’s little chance for error,” he said. “Brand integration has such a high level of visibility with clients that you want to make sure it’s being taken care of and done the right way.”
Having the three networks’ sales staffs in one place will facilitate cooperation. They will also have more interaction with the NBC sales team.
“The difference between NBC and the other entertainment networks is that the communication here is very open and clear,” Mr. Lucas said. “Part of that is because I used to work here, and part of that is because Keith Turner [president of sales and marketing for NBCU] fosters an environment with Marianne Gambelli [executive VP, NBCU sales and marketing, to whom Mr. Lucas reports] that promotes open dialogue. As a sales force, it’s very important to share information.”