Another day, another ad sales chief heading for the door.
Toby Byrne, president of ad sales for Fox Networks Group, is leaving the company after 21 years, Fox announced today. He's the third ad sales chief to step down in the past week alone.
"Toby is an extremely talented and admired member of our leadership team and has left an indelible mark over his long career at Fox," said Fox Networks Group president and COO Randy Freer in a statement. "Our exceptional results in this year's upfront attest to Toby's expertise, business abilities and personal integrity. We thank Toby for his tremendous contribution to Fox and wish him the best."
The company said it will "immediately" begin searching for Byrne's successor. For now, Freer will oversee ad revenue, while Bryne's other responsibilities will be shared by Bruce Lefkowitz, evp of ad sales, Danielle Maged, evp of global partnerships, both of whom now report to Freer, as well as Joe Marchese, president of advance advertising products, who continues to report to Freer.
In a statement, Bryne said he was going to "explore other opportunities." He added, "I'm grateful for my time at Fox and also proud of the considerable accomplishments during my tenure leading this talented sales team. I'm leaving the company at a time when we are extraordinarily well positioned to achieve and exceed our goals after an exceptional upfront season."
Byrne, who joined Fox in 1996, was named president of ad sales for Fox and Fox Sports in 2010. In 2014, he was named president of advertising sales for Fox Networks Group, giving him oversight of almost Fox's entire portfolio, including Fox, Fox Sports, FX, FXX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Mundo (but not Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network).
Fox had dominated the broadcast networks in the 18-49 demo through 2011-12, thanks to American Idol, but it tumbled all the way to fourth in the 2014-15 season, and is now in rebuilding mode. Still, Byrne had success with shows like Empire, which is now one of broadcast's most popular shows.
In his final upfront, and third in which he had sold inventory across Fox Networks Group portfolio, his team secured volume increases of around 5 percent and CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) gains in the high single digits to low double digits.
Byrne is the fifth major ad sales chief to depart in recent months, and the third in the past week. On Thursday, AMC's Arlene Manos said she would leave her role as AMC Networks ad sales president at year's end and transition to president emeritus. Her deputy Scott Collins will take her position.
Two days earlier, NBC Sports said Seth Winter would be stepping down next month and will stay with the company as an advisor through 2018. No replacement was named.
Joe Abruzzese, who spent 46 years in the business, announced his retirement from Discovery Communications in July, while Jeff Lucas said in June that he was leaving Viacom to become Snapchat's vp and head of global sales.