GSN Seeks Full-Time Distribution Chief


GSN has decided to hire a full-time head of distribution, having had a single executive lead both its ad sales and affiliate sales efforts for the past six months, officials said last week.

The former Game Show Network is looking to recruit a new chief of affiliate sales who has extensive experience actually negotiating carriage deals with MSOs, and not just sales experience out in the field with systems, according to network president Rich Cronin.

In hand with that plan, Michael Sakin will return to his former role as senior vice president of ad sales, with the added duties now of working on some new-business projects, according to Cronin.

Last August, ad-sales chief Sakin was given the additional responsibilities of leading affiliate sales when Anne Droste, then the network’s head of distribution, left GSN.

At that time, Sakin was crowned with the new title of senior vice president of sales and distribution, and was given oversight of GSN’s affiliate sales team.

It was an unusual move: Most networks have different executives in charge of ad sales and affiliate sales. Exceptions to that rule are E! Entertainment Television and G4.

But GSN, now at 54.5 million subscribers, is still trying to build distribution, and Cronin said this year everyone agreed the network needed one executive entirely devoted to affiliate sales and one totally dedicated to ad sales.

GSN was in 51 million homes when Sakin took on oversight of affiliate sales last summer.

“He did a good job,” Cronin said. “We’re now in almost 55 million homes. But I want him to focus on ad sales and also on new-business development, and I’m looking for someone full time for head of affiliate sales. We still have a lot of growth ahead of us. It’s not like E! that’s fully distributed.”

During the past few months Sakin has been involved in several new-business ventures for GSN, according to Cronin. He was part of the negotiations that nailed down a deal with the Mohegan Sun casino for World Series of Blackjack; he’s working to secure casino partners for the upcoming Blackjack series; and he is pitching racetracks and trainers for a new horse-racing show, The American Dream Derby.

Last week, GSN promoted Scott Perlmutter, vice president of affiliate sales for the Western region, to the newly created post of vice president of distribution.

Michael Severino, most recently director of affiliate sales for the Western region, was promoted to executive director of affiliate sales for that region.

GSN is also expected to name an executive director of new business shortly.