This is a major vote of confidence for the top NBC executive just days before the start of the new broadcast season and more than a year before Bob Greenblatt‘s current contract was to expire. The news will silence speculation about the future of Greenblatt as the network’s ratings turnaround is still work in progress. Greenblatt is very well liked by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and Comcast brass and has been enjoying unwavering support even when things were not going so well for NBC in early 2013. While contract renewals not always spell a long tenure (as NBC’s dismissal of Kevin Reilly shortly after signing a new 3-year deal showed), the contract extension for Greenblatt is a clear indication that Comcast is sticking to its word that it sees NBC as a long-term investment and will be patient, trusting Greenblatt and his team to turn the ship around. It also assures stability on the TV side of NBCUniversal on the heels of the shakeup at Universal Pictures last week.
Buoyed by Sunday Night Football and The Voice, NBC was on fire last fall before losing steam in January. Last season produced one early breakout, The Voice-supported drama Revolution, which lost some momentum after a lengthy hiatus, and slow-builder Chicago Fire, which spawned a spinoff series. This fall, NBC boasts two of the most buzzed about new shows with slick procedural The Blacklist, starring James Spader, and The Michael J. Fox Show, which marks the beloved TV star’s return to television. Still, the network’s signature Thursday comedy block is under siege as CBS is taking on it head on with its comedy expansion on the night this fall. NBC has the hard task of rebuilding its comedy brand from scratch this fall with only one returning series, Parks & Recreation. Since joining NBC as chairman in early 2011 after running Showtime, Greenblatt has taken swings with such shows like the futuristic, heavily serialized Revolution, which paid off, and musical drama Smash, which didn’t. His programming team is led by entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who joined in May 2011, and alternative/late night president Paul Telegdy, who stayed from the previous regime.
In the past 2.5 years Greenblatt also orchestrated the transformation of Universal TV from an NBC production arm to a supplier to broadcast and cable networks. Under Bela Bajaria, whom Greenblatt brought in two years ago, Uni TV has series on multiple outside networks, including high-profile shows on Fox and A&E, in addition to the studio’s NBC portfolio.
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