CNN Worldwide has appointed Phil Nelson to lead the network’s international business operations and its work with commercial partners outside of the United States.
As Executive Vice President of CNN International Commercial (CNNIC), Nelson is responsible for all international Advertising Sales, Content Sales & Licensing and Commercial Distribution revenue, as well as related client solutions functions including the award-winning Create brand studio and world-class digital and data operations.
In this role, Nelson also works with partners across the Warner Bros. Discovery business on areas such as CNN International’s distribution strategy and collaboration on digital operations and ad sales to provide more opportunities for brand partners to access news and other genres across the portfolio.
Nelson becomes part of CNN Worldwide’s leadership team and reports to the network’s Group Executive Vice President of Business Operations & Strategy, Chris Marlin.
As CNNIC’s Chief Operating Officer since 2019, Nelson led operational and international growth initiatives while managing advertising sales support functions. In that time he put in place the framework for CNNIC’s Audience First ad sales strategy, took CNN content onto new platforms, and grew the portfolio of CNN’s international affiliate business with broadcasters and publishers around the world as well as its commercial distribution footprint with hotels and airlines.
Major initiatives in Nelson’s time at CNNIC to date include the introduction of CNN International onto Connected TV platforms in Europe, the launch of the CNN Apparel business in Asia, licensing the rights to Great Big Story, and the expansion of the CNN branded channel portfolio with additions including CNN Brasil, CNN Prima News and CNN Portugal.
Prior to joining CNN, Nelson was Managing Director, Turner North Asia and South East Asia Pacific, overseeing all aspects of Turner’s business in these regions. He had previously held other business development and strategic planning roles at Turner since joining in 2010 and has significant digital experience from his time at AOL, where he was Managing Director for AOL Asia. In addition, Nelson holds an MBA from Harvard University and, prior to entering the corporate sector, was a commander in the US Navy.
CNN is making additional key changes to CNNIC’s executive leadership team as it evolves its client offering:
Cathy Ibal is named Senior Vice President, Advertising Sales, to oversee all CNN’s international advertising sales. A proven commercial leader with 22 years’ experience at CNN, Ibal has a track record of leading global teams and developing innovative advertising and brand solutions for a wide range of clients from major luxury and blue chip brands to travel and tourism and other private and public sector partners.
Rob Bradley is appointed Senior Vice President, Digital Revenue, Strategy & Operations, with a remit that includes everything related to the digital ecosystem for CNNIC – revenue, operations and commercial strategy. In addition to his CNNIC role, Rob is part of the CNN Digital leadership team and will lead CNNIC’s collaboration with WBD’s international business operations on digital projects and utilising best practice in advertising technology and solutions.
CNNIC’s sophisticated capabilities in creative, data, revenue strategy and client services are all being brought into one unit under the leadership of James Hunt, Senior Vice President, Global Client Solutions. This will include a joined up offering for partners across CNNIC’s award-winning Create Studio and the Audiences & Data unit along with client servicing, events and strategy functions.
“For journalism to flourish, it’s imperative that we have a robust effective commercial operation to fund the work that CNN does around the world every single day,” said Chris Licht, Chairman and Chief Executive of CNN Worldwide. “To that end, I am delighted that Phil and his executive team are taking the reins at CNNIC to lead us into a new era of working with our commercial partners.”
“CNNIC has an incredible track record in unlocking value for both CNN and our commercial partners across a wide range of sectors,” said Phil Nelson. “As we look to the future, we are creating new ways for partners to work with CNN that enable advertisers to engage with our audiences wherever they consume CNN and for broadcasters, publishers, Out of Home partners and platforms to access and leverage our world-renowned content and journalism.
In a fast-changing media landscape, we are combining the best of CNN’s content and commercial offering in an innovative way that reflects client and market needs as well as audience expectations.”