New Pac-12 Chief Revenue Officer Cella Returns to TV Sports Sales Roots

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Earlier this month, Bill Cella got back into the day-to-day action
of the sports network business, when he was named chief revenue officer for
Pac-12 Enterprises, which include the new Pac-12 TV Networks that will go live
this fall: the Pac-12 Digital Network and Pac-12 Properties, the sponsorship,
licensing and events management arm for the PAC 12 Conference. For three years,
starting in 2008, Cella operated his own consulting company, The Cella Group;
prior to that, he was chairman and CEO of Magna Global, the media negotiation,
research and programming unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies, which
represented about $25 billion of media spending on behalf of the IPC agencies
worldwide. He also spent about 15 years at ABC Television where he rose to be
VP of sports sales.

Cella has only been on the new job a few weeks and is still
involved in initial meetings with Pac-12 officials to map out a strategy for
the new network. He will oversee the management of all revenue generation,
including sale of advertising on Pac-12 TV live sports telecasts. In that
regard, it will be like his selling days at ABC Sports. And Cella certainly has
the contacts, having worked both on the TV selling side and the media agency
buying side. So expect him to use all those past business acquaintances in his
new role.

Late last week, before flying out to meetings on the West Coast,
Cella, who will be based in New York, answered some questions about his new job
and what it will entail.

How
did this new opportunity come about for you?

I just happened to call Gary Stevenson [Pac-12 Enterprises
president] to congratulate him after he got his new job and it came up that he
was looking for someone to fill this new position. I was very content and happy
doing my consulting work. But I had spent about seven or eight years earlier in
my career in sports selling and this seemed like an interesting and unique
position. So from there the conversations progressed.

What
do you see your role as being?

While most of the Pac-12 operation is on the West Coast, I will
work out of New York. I feel if we are going to be selling advertising
and generating other kinds of revenue from marketers, that we have to have
a presence in New York City where most of the media buying and planning
agencies are located. Our goal will be to show marketers that we can offer them
a TV Everywhere scenario regarding the Pac-12, that they can reach a lot of
different platforms and touch points with one-stop shopping.

Will
be doing some selling yourself?

I'll be doing a lot of selling but it will be a collaboration of
the staff. I'll be in New York and making calls there. I'll have a sales
manager in San Francisco [where Pac-12 Enterprises is based]. And sponsorships
will be sold out of San Francisco. We'll have a group of about 12 people. In
New York and in additional to sales people, we will also have a media planner
who can work with marketers or their agencies. And all of us will be on the
road a lot in meeting with perspective clients. This is going to be a fun sell,
and I will be involved in all aspects.

When
will you begin to start actual selling?

We are putting our strategies and pricing together now and we
expect to be out on the street and selling in about three weeks. But I have
already gotten many calls and spoken to lots of agency people. I do have a lot
of contacts from my years in the business, so I've been busy scheduling
meetings with these people. We need to spread the word as fast as we can.

Beyond
traditional 30-second commercials, what other types of advertising will you be
offering?

We are planning to offer program sponsorships. We will have six
regional networks and 850 hours of new programming to start out. And we are
also hoping to offer some of that programming on both mobile and digital
platforms and sell advertising for that. But we are still in the discussion
stage on a lot of it.

How
will advertiser partnerships or official sponsors with the Pac-12 be similar or
different from official sponsors of the pro sports leagues?

We control all the programming and content of our shows so we have
more of an ability to do tailor-made programming in some instances that appeal
to our partners. And because we control all of our networks, partners will be
national or regional.

How
does it feel to be back in that daily pressure cooker of selling advertising?

When I left Magna, I was invited by a lot of companies to join
their boards and do consulting work for them. So I have really kept busy. But
this job has a real adrenaline rush to it. And having to deal with activity in
two different time zones on the two coasts will make it more challenging. But I
am really enjoying it.

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