SNTA Preview: Chris Kager

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Wayne Karrfalt

Special to TelevisionWeek

NBC Universal’s Executive VP of Media Sales Chris Kager said he tells his team that making a successful pitch is all about understanding advertisers’ needs and matching them with the company’s products.

To do that, Mr. Kager and his staff have been working closely with program producers to come up with innovative ways to help advertisers promote their brands.

“It could be something as simple as product placement that gets them over the hump,” Mr. Kager said. “It could be branded entertainment within shows, which is very enticing. Or it could be straight media value. It’s sort of all those things rolled up.”

“The positive that we have is that the executive producers of our shows get it too,” said Tim Miller, who works under Mr. Kager as VP of media sales for NBC Universal Domestic Television. “It’s their input that says this is what we understand and what we can do. It’s more of a believable pitch coming from the whole company.”

Mr. Kager has overseen the task of merging the operations of two of the largest U.S. syndication distributors-Universal and MGM/NBC-while preparing for the busy sales season. Mr. Miller said his boss succeeded in that “herculean” undertaking by trusting his team and exerting a calming influence.

At the same time, Mr. Kager always sees room for improvement and called the SNTA a vehicle toward that end. For example, he said he feels syndicators in general could do a better job convincing segments like automotive and telecommunications to spend more of their war chests on syndicated programming.

Not every advertiser understands that thanks to technology, long lead times are no longer necessary for buying syndicated spots or that it’s a national delivery system that is free of costly integration fees, Mr. Kager said.

Mr. Kager said he and his team plan to stress positives to media planners at this week’s SNTA conference in New York.

Every year advertisers complain about how erratic and unpredictable broadcast’s prime-time lineup has become, but Mr. Kager said that’s not so with syndicated shows. Ninety percent of shows in syndication have a proven track record, he said.

“The networks’ broadcasts in prime time have a tendency to change very dramatically as the season goes on,” he said. “Our ratings are very consistent. Our shows are very consistent and they come back year after year. That’s a very big benefit we bring to the advertising community.”

Just the Facts

Title: Executive VP, media sales, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution

How long in current position: One year

Year of birth: 1951

Place of birth: Queens, N.Y.

Who knew? Mr. Kager said he’s one of the worst golfers ever to head a sales division.