See the update below for confirmation from Comcast.
Variety is reporting that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke is expected to depart in 2020, with Jeff Shell expected replace him as head of the company that owns the Universal theme parks.
Burke took over at NBCUniversal in 2011, when Comcast was buying majority control of the company. Before joining Comcast, Burke worked at The Walt Disney Company, where he was President and COO of Euro Disney from 1992 through 1996, then executive vice president at ABC and later President at ABC Broadcasting, where he reported to then-ABC President Bob Iger.
As CEO of NBCUniversal, Burke famously has enjoyed competing with former co-workers at Disney, approving aggressive investment in Universal's theme parks and most recently pushing for the launch of Peacock - NBCUniversal's direct-to-consumer streaming service to compete with Disney's just-launched Disney+.
Shell also is a former Disney cast member, having worked in its Strategic Planning Group before making his way to Comcast and then NBCUniversal, where he runs NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment, which includes the Universal Studios film studio as well as what's basically the "fiction" part of the NBC network. Most of the rest of NBC reports up under Mark Lazarus, who is the chairman of NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News. Lazarus was considered the other top internal candidate to replace Burke.
In case you are wondering, Tom Williams, who is the chairman of Universal Parks and Resorts, does not report through either Shell or Lazarus, but directly instead to Vice Chairman Ron Meyer and Burke.
There's no conformation of Variety's report yet from NBCUniversal or its parent Comcast. But if Burke is leaving, that raises the question of where the 61-year-old executive might go next. (Just imagine Burke taking time to prepare to succeed Iger at Disney, if you want to envision the Disney fan base spontaneously igniting.)
Update (Dec. 16): Comcast confirmed the departure this morning.
Comcast Corporation today announced that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke will retire on August 14, 2020, following the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Effective January 1, 2020, Jeff Shell will become CEO of NBCUniversal, reporting to Burke, who will move to the role of Chairman, NBCUniversal. Upon Burke’s retirement, Shell will report directly to Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast.Tweet
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