SBJ/June 11 - 17, 2007/This Weeks News

Sales staff turnover hits YES Network

YES Network has seen significant turnover in its sales department over the past eight months, with more than half of its account executives — five in total — resigning since November.

The departures come at a critical time for the New York-based regional sports network, with the Yankees suffering through their worst start in YES’s five-year history. Add in competition from the Mets’ one-year-old RSN, SportsNet New York, and the fact that the crosstown baseball rivals are in first place, and it makes for arguably the roughest patch ever for YES Network.

The New York Yankees’ tumultuous early season
has kept ratings flat on its YES Network.

Network executives insist the spate of departures has not affected the company’s sales efforts this season, which they say are pacing ahead of last year. They said they have signed 35 new advertisers this season. Network executives also said there is one open account executive position, which they expect to fill by the end of next week.

“Our sales revenue is up significantly over last year in a soft marketplace,” said Mike Wach, YES Network’s executive vice president of ad sales.

YES Network is averaging a 4.4 rating this season to date, compared with 4.3 for the same period last year. The ratings ticked up slightly thanks to good numbers from last week’s Yankees series with the Chicago White Sox.

Still, the rapid turnover rate in the RSN’s sales department since last fall has been startling. The most recent defections occurred within the past couple of weeks, when Chris LaCamera and Mike Fagen left. Two months earlier, Raul Medina resigned, and that came after Derek Gamble left in January and Rick Gigliotti departed in November.

Earlier last year, director of sales Mark Toffolo left to become MSG Networks vice president of MSG advertising sales. He has since moved on to work with Dave Checketts at the St. Louis Blues.

Network officials said they have replaced many of the executives with high-profile hires.

“We have added account executives with stellar track records who have made us a much stronger sales team,” Wach said.

In October, YES Network hired Meg Courtney-Cavanaugh from WCBS-TV in New York. In February, it brought Joe Capobianco over from New York’s WPIX-TV. The RSN also notes its hiring of David Elkins in August as director of digital media sales. About that same time, it promoted Lisa Wagner to ad sales director, reporting to Steve Berman, senior vice president of ad sales.

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