Toby Byrne, head of advertising sales for Fox Networks Group, is abruptly leaving the company.
Byrne has been with Fox for nearly 20 years and was put in charge of sales for the broadcast network, the company's cable network and digital properties two years ago.
A search for a successor has begun, the company said. In the interim, ad revenue will be overseen by Fox Networks Group president and COO Randy Freer and Byrne's responsibilities will be handled by executive VP of advertising sales Bruce Lefkowitz and executive VP of global partnerships Danielle Maged—now reporting to Freer—and president of advanced advertising products Joe Marchese, who continues to report to Freer.
Byrne's exit comes as the network finalizes upfront orders ahead of the start of a new season. Fox had a good upfront with ad revenues looking to rebound along with the broadcast networks ratings. Fox is also looking forward to the Super Bowl, which generates more advertising spending than any other single-day TV property.
James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, has made innovating TV advertising one of his key issues. He's advocated cutting commercial loads and finding way to make advertising more engaging and effecitve in order to prevent the important revenue stream from drying up.
"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 Freer. "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."
Other top ad sales executives have recently left their posts, with Joe Abruzzese stepping down at Discovery Communications, Seth Winter becoming a consultant to NBC Sports and Arlene Manos becoming president emeritus at AMC Networks.
Byrne started at Fox in 1996 and replaced Jon Nesvig as head of sales for the broadcast network in 2010.
"After nearly 21 years and a fantastic run at an amazing company, I'm leaving the Fox Networks Group to explore other opportunities," Byrne said. " 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. I look forward to continuing my relationships with my colleagues and friends at Fox and am excited to explore the next chapter of my career."