Discovery Ad Sales Chief Joe Abruzzese to Retire; Network Vet Ben Price to Take Over

Ben Price Joe Abruzzese Split H 2016
Courtesy of Discovery

Ben Price, a 27-year veteran of the company, will be elevated to head of Discovery's U.S. ad sales division.

Discovery Communications long-time ad sales chief Joe Abruzzese will retire at the end of the year. The announcement came Monday from Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav, and caps a 46-year-career in the industry for Abruzzese

Ben Price, a 27-year veteran of the company, will be elevated to head of Discovery's U.S. ad sales division. He'll be based in New York and report to Chief Commercial Officer Paul Guyardo.

"Joe has defined what it means to lead with integrity, has made clients into friends, built the best ad sales organization in the business — including our new leader Ben Price — and created fantastic value for Discovery and our shareholders,” Zaslav said in a statement. “He is a great person, an incredible friend and on behalf of the Discovery leadership team, our board of directors and the entire Discovery family we say thank you, Joe. You are the gold standard.”

Added Abruzzese: “I am lucky to have found my way into this wonderful business more than 45 years ago, and to have worked for the best media companies in the world. I’ve loved this industry from the moment I set foot in 30 Rock many years ago and still love it today. I’ve established relationships with clients and agency partners who have turned into lifelong friends. I leave Discovery feeling proud of what the team has accomplished; confident in Ben’s leadership to take the organization forward; and thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here.”

Abruzzese joined Discovery in 2002, from CBS where he was head of ad sales for 11 years. At Discovery, he led efforts across the networks portfolio including flagship Discovery as well as TLC, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, Animal Planet and Oprah Winfrey's OWN. At CBS, Abruzzese led sales for the network's entertainment, sports, daytime, news and late night divisions as well as the UPN networks and CBS internet sales. He was instrumental in spearheading landmark industry deals including securing corporate sponsorships to launch the hit series Survivor. Abruzzese began working at CBS in 1980 and held executive positions in sales for daytime, children’s, sports and late night before taking the helm leading network sales. Prior to CBS, he worked at NBC for 10 years in sports sales, planning and business affairs. Abruzzese began his career at the J.P. Stevens Company in New York.

In 2010, he was honored with the Chuck Fruit Award of Excellence by the National Kidney Foundation in 2010. He also sits on the board of directors for the National Kidney Foundation of Greater New York and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“I am honored to take this position,” said Price in a statement. “Joe is an incredible leader, friend and mentor and I have been proud to work with him for the past 14 years. I look forward to continuing his legacy of providing the highest level of service to clients and value to the company, as well as to lead the best ad sales team in the business in creating exciting new opportunities for Discovery and our partners.”