TV Upfront

Who's Who Among TV's Top Wheeler-Dealers

From the NFL, Holding Millions of Fans' Hopes in Its Hands, to Simon Cowell, Who Fox Is Betting Has the Next Sure Thing, Here's Who to Watch

By Published on .

Toby Byrne
Toby Byrne
TOBY BYRNE
TITLE: President-sales, News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: As the lead network in reaching viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, Fox often has the chance to set the tone of the upfront market. Mr. Byrne is the new guy on the block, having replaced wily Fox veteran Jon Nesvig, and is the man who has not only "American Idol" but "X Factor" to sell. Will he emulate Mr. Nesvig's move last year and accept smaller price hikes in exchange for driving dollar volume? Or will he hang tough and push advertisers for the absolute best price he can get in an up market?


THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: With players and owners at odds, there is great fear that the NFL will not be able to mount a full season -- or any season -- come fall. That has great ramifications for any advertiser who needs the ratings power of football telecasts on ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox, and could crimp Comcast's plans for NBC, where "Sunday Night Football" is the only big-ratings champ on its schedule (not to mention the fact that NBC is slated to air next year's Super Bowl). Advertisers will scrutinize every bit of news on this issue as they decide whether to invest in football or move dollars elsewhere while they still have time.


Jo Ann Ross
Jo Ann Ross
JO ANN ROSS
TITLE: President-network sales, CBS Television Network
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Every year, Ms. Ross must go to advertisers with the outsize expectations of her boss, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, ringing in their ears: big hikes in the cost of reaching viewers. Armed with TV's most- reliable stable of programming, it's Ms. Ross's job to navigate the divide between what Mr. Moonves wants and what advertisers are willing to give -- and to do it before Fox or other broadcast rivals snare too much volume.


Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell
SIMON COWELL
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: At a time when as much as 80% of TV's new offerings fail, it's rare to hear about a show that nearly everyone considers a sure thing: a second "American Idol." Fox has already lined up Pepsi as a season-long sponsor for "X Factor" and is on the hunt for other advertisers who want to appear within the program as well as in the commercial breaks that support it. Can the network command the same prices it gets for the most-watched show on TV?


David Levy
David Levy
Linda Yaccarino
Linda Yaccarino
DAVID LEVY and LINDA YACCARINO
TITLES: President-sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting System and exec VP and chief operating officer of Turner Entertainment ad sales, marketing and acquisitions, respectively
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Time Warner 's Turner unit has aggressively built up its sports and entertainment offerings over the past year, welcoming Conan O' Brien and NCAA basketball from broadcast. Now look for executives to turn to advertisers to help fund the popular content. Insiders suggest Turner will look for price hikes similar to those won by broadcast outlets and could be willing to sacrifice volume for price integrity. After all, getting such prices now establishes a level upon which to build as the company continues to add more original programming to TBS, TNT and even Tru.


Geri Wang
Geri Wang
GERI WANG
TITLE: President-sales and marketing, Walt Disney's ABC
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Can Ms. Wang convince advertisers to plunk down more dollars on a network whose mainstay programs are getting a little old and whose new programs this season largely failed to impress? Or can she use the power of "Modern Family," "Grey 's Anatomy" and "Dancing with the Stars" to rope in ad commitments?


Dave Cassaro
Dave Cassaro
DAVE CASSARO
TITLE: President–cable advertising sales, NBC Universal
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: With cable carrying most of the weight of NBCU's business operations, Mr. Cassaro will be under pressure to drive ad-sales volume that broadcast sibling NBC, currently in a weaker state, may not be able to muster.


Marianne Gambelli
Marianne Gambelli
MARIANNE GAMBELLI
TITLE: President-NBC network advertising sales
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: New corporate owner Comcast has said turning NBC around will take time. Nonetheless, Ms. Gambelli, an NBC veteran, will likely be looking to make sure her network keeps pace with others seeking steep price hikes this year. Will she have the programs in her arsenal to help her do so?


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