Discovery has turned to one of its own to head sales for the coming Oprah Winfrey Network. Kathleen Kayse, a former People magazine publisher, becomes executive vice president of ad sales for OWN as the venture moves toward an uncertain launch date.
Kayse's role will also include oversight of sales for Oprah.com, now owned by Winfrey's Harpo. The site will be folded into the 50/50 joint venture between Discovery Communications and Harpo, although there had been some uncertainty how that would be handled.
Kayse had been executive vice president for digital media sales at Discovery, an expanding but unprofitable company arm. The company operates HowStuffWorks.com and Petfinder.com as well as locales linked to its slew of channels -- but has failed to make money, although losses have narrowed, company CFO Brad Singer said last month.
OWN was scheduled for a 2009 launch, and is now on deck for sometime next year in about 70 million homes. As of July 31, Discovery had committed $18 million to OWN's development, and is obligated to loan it $100 million by the fall of 2011.
Kayse will jointly report to Joe Abruzzese, Discovery's ad sales president, and Christina Norman, OWN's CEO.
Kayse spent 24 years at Time Warner before joining Discovery last year. She left as marketing solutions head for Platform-A, a sales organization for a slew of AOL sites, and had also served as People magazine publisher before that.