Sean O’Boyle, ’85
January 20, 2012 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09
Sean O’Boyle knew he wanted to go into the television business when he enrolled at Niagara as an English major in 1981. He was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes work he had seen his uncle, who worked at CBS in New York City, do, and says that “being around cameras and just the making of television was interesting to me.” What he didn’t know was that this interest would propel him into one of the top spots at NBC Universal.
As executive vice president and general sales manager for the network’s Domestic Television Distribution Division, Sean oversees all day-to-day domestic broadcast sales of first-run and off-network syndicated programs throughout the United States. It’s a job he didn’t know existed when he graduated in 1985 and took a position as a gofer in the CBS newsroom in New York City. His entrée into syndication work came a couple of years later, when he took a job as a sales assistant at the New York office of Orbis Communications, a small syndication company. A sales manager recognized that Sean had a knack for conversation and asked him if he’d be interested in pursuing a career in sales. He was.
His career quickly took off — he was transferred in 1989 to the company’s Chicago office, where he sold movies and shows like Joker’s Wild. Two years later, he took a position with Group W Productions, the broadcasting division of Westinghouse Electric Corp., as Midwest regional sales manager. In 1996, he accepted the position of vice president of sales at Eyemark Entertainment/King World Productions, where he helped launch first-run strip programs including Martha Stewart Living and off-network sales of Everybody Loves Raymond. From there he moved on to NBC Enterprises as vice president of Midwestern sales, selling such shows as Access Hollywood and The Chris Matthews Show. In 2004, following the merger of NBC with Universal Studios, Sean returned to New York City when he was named to the newly created position of senior vice president and national syndication sales manager for the division. In this role, he was instrumental in the local broadcast sales of series including the first-run launch of Deal or No Deal as well as The Jerry Springer Show, Maury and The Steve Wilkos Show. In October of 2008, Sean was appointed to his current position.
Sean says he enjoys the work, especially perks like meeting the cast of The Office and visiting Martha Stewart at her home in Connecticut. He has discussed parenting issues with Howie Mandell and introduced the late Tim Russert at an event that included Hilary Clinton among its guests. “It’s all part of the job,” he says.
The White Plains, N.Y., native credits Niagara’s sense of community with helping him develop the values and the people skills he needed to successfully pursue his career. Niagara is also where he met his wife, the former Sheila Finnerty of the Class of 1985. In April of 2009, Sean returned to Monteagle Ridge to discuss his career with students in the communications studies program, giving them insight into a field that he, himself, discovered only by chance.