The news of Mr. Abruzzese's departure was first reported by AdAge.com sibling Electronic Media.
22-year CBS veteran
Mr. Abruzzese will be named president of ad sales at Discovery Networks. Mr. Abruzzese, who had been at CBS for 22 years and recently assumed leadership of ad sales of UPN as well, will report to Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks, a former colleague at CBS. Prior to CBS, Mr. Abruzzese spent 10 years at NBC.
Bill McGowan, executive vice president of U.S. ad sales and global integrated partnerships for Discovery Networks, will report to Mr. Abruzzese.
Mr. Abruzzese will have supervision across all of Discovery's 13 cable domestic networks along with BBC America, discovery.com ad sales, promotional, licensing and retail tie-ins, and Discovery's new ad-supported services.
Concerning the growing cable ratings, "there is a convegence and equalization coming. If I can be a part of that, I'll have done my job," Mr. Abruzzese said in a press conference today. "I'm going from one great brand at CBS to another great brand, Discovery."
A major issue for cable networks is focusing on the advertising price disparity. "Cable is undervalued right now," Mr. Abruzzese said, "and network has too big of a premium." The primary reason, he said, was due to broadcast networks "unduplicated" audience.
Cable, on the other hand, has a duplicated audience, meaning advertisers are hitting the same viewers over and over -- but not new viewers. In media planning jargon, that means getting more "frequency" and not much "reach."
Based on his experience in selling cross-platform deals through Viacom's Viacom Plus, Mr. Abruzzese believes Discovery Networks has an even bigger opportunity to grow -- especially because cable ratings are climbing and broadcast's are declining.
A CBS spokesman said there were no immediate plans to name a successor to Mr. Abruzzese. But insiders said Joann Ross, executive vice president of advertising sales, or Scott McGraw, executive vice president of sports sales and marketing, would be logical contenders for the top spot.