Category: GEMA, GEMA Event

Title:GEMA Breakfast Series with Seth Winter (C’76), SVP of Ad Sales at NBC Universal Sports and Olympics

Story and photos by Mallory Norton (C ’06)

On Thursday, October 20th Seth Winter (C’76) invited a diverse group of Hoyas to Rockefeller Plaza to join in a conversation about his personal journey as well as the challenges faced by the ever-changing media landscape.

Winter, a government and theology major, discussed his progression from political science to where he sits today, overseeing marketplace sales and marketing strategy for NBC Universal Sports and Olympics (which includes many of sports’ most prestigious events: summer and winter Olympics, NFL, NHL, Notre Dame Football, U.S. Open and more). He chalks it up to a mixture of luck, fate, good fortune and hard work.

“I had no notion that I wanted to get into this business…I wanted to be a laywer,” he recalls. “As class of ’76, there was not even a media course at Georgetown.”

Winter made his own course. As a waiter and bartender at the Tombs (collective sigh from the audience), he recognized a need for a better sound system and relevant music.

He studied up and installed the best equipment for the time. Soon after he was getting calls from bars and hotels around DC to install sound systems, which led to his next gig in radio sales. At WRC, an NBC O&O in DC, Winter met friends and colleagues in local TV who prodded him to move to New York where he could get the most complete media experience.

It was at his first job in local sales at WOR-TV where media mixed with his true love of sports—he covered all sports in NY. Working and running at local stations for 20 years, Winter was tapped to run sales at a new cable news network, MSNBC, as VP of Sales.

He spent two more years launching NBC’s digital platforms before he took the helm of Sports and Olympics at NBC, where he’s been since 2006. Winter attributed much of his career path to passion—“I love what I do, if you carry the passion through your life you will always be happy…there is no way you won’t be successful.”

After discussing some the of the intricacies involved with selling the Olympic games, and the challenges posed by monetizing content, gauging consumer demand and consolidation in the media landscape, Winter mostly had words of professional wisdom for the group:

  • Family first. No matter how successful your career, if your family isn’t happy, it doesn’t matter
  • Don’t overestimate consumer demand for things, just because you hear they want it, doesn’t mean they do
  • Be a decision maker. If you’re right or wrong, so what. Be decisive.
  • Be mindful of what’s good for the customer, know their business
  • Put your ego aside. Don’t ever let your ego motivate you. It’s better to see other people succeed.
  • Be educated about our industry and the world
  • Be someone you want to be with—be quirky, be crazy, be unpredictable. Keep things light and be diverse with your interests. He may have made his own media course at Georgetown, but as this GEMA Breakfast illustrates—he’s certainly teaching others now.