SBJ/January 14-20, 2013/Media

Ad vet Novenstern joining Tennis Channel as VP of integrated partnerships

Tennis Channel hired veteran ad executive Larry Novenstern to a new role as vice president of integrated partnerships.
Novenstern is based in New York and reports to Gary Herman, the network’s senior vice president of advertising. He started Dec. 10.

“Being able to get back into sports full time again was a major attraction to me,” Novenstern said.

Tennis Channel created the position as a way to bring new high-profile advertisers into Tennis Channel’s stable. The network believes Novenstern has the career background to achieve that goal, while giving the network access to the senior levels of advertising agencies.

Novenstern said he’s most excited about helping to build brands’ sports sponsorships around Tennis Channel. He said his history of building programs around sports is a main reason why he took the job.

“I’m not here to sell you something. I’m here to help you build your brand,” Novenstern said, pointing to his work with Visa, where he helped set up the company’s halftime sponsorship on Fox’s NFL telecasts in 1996. Novenstern also brokered Mountain Dew’s first action sports investment with the X Games.

During his career, Novenstern has held top jobs at Optimedia U.S. and Deutsch Inc., and was one of the most visible ad buyers in sports media.

He left Optimedia U.S. in 2010 and picked up several consulting gigs. MasterCard, for example, hired him to help on the company’s MLB and PGA Tour sponsorships. Immediately before joining Tennis Channel, Novenstern was senior vice president, U.S. media director, at Orion Trading.

Tennis Channel launched in 2003 and is in around 34 million homes, but it has had trouble increasing its distribution. It’s in the middle of a highly charged legal battle with Comcast, which carries the channel on its poorly distributed sports and entertainment tier.

But Novenstern said the channel’s viewership demos, which typically are more affluent than other networks, should outweigh any distribution concerns for potential sponsors.

“From an audience standpoint, there’s no waste at Tennis Channel,” he said. “If you buy a spot on ‘Monday Night Football’ or ‘Sunday Night Football,’ it’s more of a buckshot approach.”

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