Longtime agency and network TV sales veteran Bill Cella has joined college football's Pac-12 Enterprises and Pac-12 Networks as chief revenue officer.
He will report to sports media veteran Gary Stevenson, who was hired last August as president of the conference’s Enterprises division. It is currently building out a system of regional, digital and national TV networks to air all the men’s and women’s tournament and championship events not broadcast by outside rights holders, such as Fox and ESPN.
The Pac-12 Networks are scheduled to launch in August of this year.
In fact, Stevenson noted that the coming school year will be the first in which every Pac-12 football game and men’s basketball game will have national TV coverage by way of Fox, ESPN or the new in-house network system.
Cella was the founding CEO of Magna Global when the Interpublic Group of Companies formed the unit over a decade ago to provide market intelligence and negotiating services for IPG's media shops. Prior to that, he was the top media buyer and negotiator at IPG's McCann Erickson. Earlier, he was on the sales side, most notably at ABC Television Network, where he ran the sports sales operation for four years.
After leaving Magna a few years ago, Cella set up a media consultancy, The Cella Group, which Cella confirmed he will be shuttering to take on the Pac-12 post.
Cella will remain based in New York, albeit with frequent trips to San Francisco, where the Pac-12 is building a new headquarters and studio. Cella, who joined the network last week, is in the process of hiring the sales team, which will have offices on both coasts and the Midwest.
Stevenson and Cella have been friends since the 1980s, when Cella was at ABC and Stevenson was a senior executive at the PGA Tour. “We’ve stayed in touch over the years,” said Stevenson. Shortly after Stevenson was hired, Cella called to congratulate him.
Cella said he found the “whole operation fascinating. And I love college sports, so it really just became an opportunity I did not want to pass up.”
In November, the network hired Lydia Murphy-Stephans, the former Olympian turned TV executive, to oversee programming and production. She previously worked for ABC Sports, Madision Square Garden Network and Oxygen. Her No. 2 is Leon Schweir, who helped launch a similar effort at the Big Ten Network a few years ago.
Running affiliate sales is Art Marquez, who held similar posts at both the MLB and NFL Networks.
Stevenson said that the network now has carriage agreements in place with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House cable companies; discussions with other cable, satellite and telephone companies continue.
“Our footprint will pass 40 million homes,” Stevenson said, referring to the six states where Pac-12 colleges are located. In the TV markets where schools are located, the network will air on basic cable, and in other markets it will air on digital basic tiers. Outside of the footprint, it’s likely to be packaged in sports tiers,” Stevenson said.