Disney-ABC Combines Entire Portfolio Into One Ad Sales Division

Rita Ferro will run the show; no layoffs are anticipated

Last Updated: February 8, 2017 @ 11:46 AM

Disney-ABC is consolidating its advertising sales division to span the company’s entire portfolio, which includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney and Freeform.

Veteran executive Rita Ferro (pictured above) will oversee the operation and report in to Bruce Rosenblum, the company’s president of Business Operations.

Ferro told TheWrap Wednesday that this move is a “natural progression” of what is happening in the media landscape. Basically, the combination of all these groups allows for efficiencies, like the ability for a client to have just “one conversation” instead of many, she explained.

It doesn’t sound like there will be layoffs per the reorg, per our conversation with Ferro. At least, not anytime soon.

“No, this was not an exercise in how we have a smaller organization,” she replied to our admitted bummer question. “It really was about aligning opportunities and businesses much more strategically for our go-forward.”

Ferro’s group is larger than 500 people, counting front-end and backend ad sales professionals. It’s good for them to hear that this wasn’t “about efficiencies,” another way she put it to us.

Here are the core teams Ferro will oversee, all in Disney-ABC’s own words:

Brand, Revenue & Yield Management: This team will optimize and manage business opportunities across the portfolio. In order to provide increased scale as consumer behavior shifts and multi-platform viewing opportunities continue to expand, this area will link to the content through dedicated daypart, programmatic and digital revenue teams. Debbie Richman, former senior vice president, Primetime Sales, ABC, will serve as executive vice president, Revenue & Yield Management, Disney-ABC, reporting to Ferro.

Client & Audience Solutions: This team will develop specialized client & category-specific strategies and opportunities across the portfolio’s platforms. Utilizing marketplace and audience intelligence, the team will develop specific sales offerings designed to bring enhanced opportunity to clients. Laura Nathanson, former executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Freeform, will serve as executive vice president, Client & Audience Solutions, Disney-ABC, reporting to Ferro.

Sales and Marketing: This team will maximize linear and digital agency advertising opportunities across Disney-ABC and include a full service in-house creative agency with the ability to create branded entertainment and deploy big ideas for clients across programming assets. Debra O’Connell, former president, National TV Sales, ABC Owned Stations Group, will serve as executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Disney-ABC, reporting to Ferro.

And here are the official bios for Ferro’s senior leadership team, mentioned above:

Laura Nathanson, executive vice president, Client & Audience Solutions, Disney-ABC, served as executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Freeform, for the past 15 years. Previously, Nathanson oversaw national sales as executive vice president, National Sales Manager for the ABC Television Network. Earlier, she was executive vice president, Primetime Sales, ABC Television Network, a position she’d held since July 1999.

Debra O’Connell, executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Disney-ABC, most recently served as president, National TV Sales, ABC Owned Stations Group since 2014. At ABC for nearly 20 years, O’Connell oversaw Multimedia Sales and Marketing for the division from 2006 to 2011. She has also served as VP of Marketing at WABC. She serves as the vice chairman of the IRTS Foundation (offering Access, Education, and Diversity in and for future media leaders), is a board member of the TVB (Television Bureau of Advertising), an executive member of the Nielsen Local Alliance committee, and a member of the IoTC (Internet of Things Consortium). 

Debbie Richman, executive vice president, Brand, Revenue & Yield Management, Disney-ABC, previously served as senior vice president, Primetime Sales, ABC Sales. Prior to joining ABC in 2010, she was executive vice president, ad sales for Lifetime Networks.Prior to joining Lifetime, Richman had been managing director, national broadcast, at Omincom’s OMD and also held various media positions at McCann-Erickson, Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather.

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