SBJ/July 23-29, 2012/Media

New CSN Houston will use NBC Sports for national spot sales

When NBC Sports launches its next regional sports network in Houston this fall, it will be the latest Comcast SportsNet to use NBC for national spot sales.

In April, NBC Sports started selling national spot advertising for four of its RSNs — New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Philadelphia — through NBC Owned Television Stations.

Results have been good enough that Ray Warren, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for NBC Sports Regional Networks, will bring Houston into that fold.

Through the Fox-owned Home Team Sports, FSN sells national ads across all its RSNs to let national advertisers buy local spots across all U.S. markets with one buy.

“But we will bring in NBC to get the national advertisers who want to just buy the Astros or the Rockets,” Warren said.

Despite the move to let NBC handle national spot sales, Warren said the RSN’s focus would be local — both on-air and in ad sales.

The goal at each NBC Sports RSN is to have 65 percent of ad sales be local and 35 percent be national. While it could not be determined what the current RSN average was, Warren did shed some light on the Houston market.

“Right now, it’s the reverse of that in Houston. We have a lot of work to do,” Warren said. “Local sales are like a value fund. Those sponsors stay with you through thick and thin.”

Comcast SportsNet is in the process of hiring up to five sales executives to round out its Houston sales staff.

The RSN hired two longtime Houston-based ad sales executives to oversee the process. It hired Doug Lyles from the NBC affiliate in Houston (KPRC) as vice president of ad sales, and named Jim Colasanto from FS Houston to be senior director of ad sales. Lyles starts today; Colasanto started earlier this month and already has started selling Rockets inventory, which debuts on CSN Houston this fall.

“It will take 30 to 60 days to get the full team in place,” Warren said. “They are going to be deeply focused in letting advertising know that this is a hyperlocal network.”

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