Geri Wang to Retire as ABC Sales President

Geri Wang_ABC - P 2016
Courtesy of ABC

Geri Wang_ABC - P 2016

She will step down in March, missing ABC's May upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers.

ABC is losing a key member of its team.

ABC Sales president Geri Wang, a frequent staple of the network's upfront presentation, is retiring. She will step down from her post in March, wrapping a 27-year career and missing the network's May upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent ABC for these past 27 years," Wang said Thursday in a statement announcing her retirement. "I truly love ABC: the people, the programs, the ideals. It’s been a magnificent journey, and I want to thank my team for all of their hard work, their brilliance and their friendship. No one is luckier than me.”

Added Disney Media Networks co-chairman and president Ben Sherwood: “While we all understand and respect Geri’s decision, she will be greatly missed — both inside Disney|ABC and around the globe with our many clients. Geri is a force of nature — one of the best and brightest in our business. Relentless in her commitment to ABC, formidable at the negotiating table and a fierce advocate for all clients, she has raised the standards of everyone who works with her. We all wish her the very best, no one more than I.”

As president of sales for ABC, Wang has led a team of nearly 300 people and is responsible for ad sales and integrated marketing across ABC's portfolio. She was promoted to the position in 2010 and has been instrumental in extending ad opportunities beyond television as nonlinear viewership has exploded. She managed a group that generated billions of dollars annually. 

Wang started her career at ABC as a daytime planner in 1990. The well-liked and respected executive was promoted to senior vp primetime sales in 2000. A decade later, she was tapped to serve as president of ABC Sales. 

This past season, Wang scored double-digit CPM (cost per thousand) gains despite the fact that the Disney-owned network slipped to fourth place among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. She has been a staple on THR's annual Women in Entertainment power list. 

Wang built a reputation as a steely negotiator, winning increases for ABC even as the network’s primetime performance softened in recent years. She also was innovative in packaging the network’s multiplatform assets. Digital proliferation — and the marked decline in linear TV ratings — have roiled the sales sector as networks work to monetize all the ways consumers are watching content. Wang is only the latest veteran ad sales chief to exit in the last several months. Fox’s Toby Byrne left in September; AMC’s Arlene Manos will transition to an emeritus role at the company at year's end; NBC Sports sales chief Seth Winter announced after the Rio Olympics that he would be stepping down; and Discovery’s Joe Abruzzese said in the summer that he would retire this month after nearly 50 years in the business.
Marisa Guthrie contributed to this report.