Less than three weeks after veteran USA Network exec Bill McGoldrick took over as head of development at NBCU sibling Syfy comes word that the network and Universal are refocusing Syfy Films. SVP Production Gregory Noveck’s contract is up, and he is exiting the company, as is Syfy Films Director of Development Joshua Banta, NBCUniversal reps said tonight. Noveck, a former SVP Creative Affairs at DC Comics, joined Syfy Films in May 2011, less than six months after the unit was created to develop and produce Syfy-branded theatrical features to be distributed by Universal. The original plan was to release one or two films a year, mining the genres of science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and horror. The unit has yet to produce a film but has made acquisitions including Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s superhero anthology Wild Cards — its first rights buy, in October 2011 — and more recently the sci-fi thriller Lights Out. The NBCU rep wouldn’t elaborate on plans for Syfy Films, but McGoldrick’s new gig includes overseeing theatrical development for the unit, in partnership with Universal.
A perfect media company “would look a lot like NBCUniversal,” the operation’s chief told analysts this morning in a conference call to discuss Q3 earnings. He turned cheerleader in response to a question about whether parent company Comcast would consider buying other assets to fill out its entertainment portfolio. And it isn’t, at least not as of today. “We see so much organic growth” from the existing properties, Steve Burke said. Specifically, “we’ve grown increasingly bullish about the theme park business,” he added, with Phase 2 of its Harry Potter attraction proceeding in Orlando and other ambitious efforts to develop tie-ins with Despicable Me. “We’re making these investments because we really like the business,” Burke said. Comcast execs added little new information about developments on other fronts. On the possibility of adding a Netflix app to the company’s set top boxes, Comcast Cable chief Neil Smit says: “There’s nothing to report. … It’s incredible to me the amount of press coverage this has received.” He noted, though, that the company has apps for Facebook and Pandora. And CEO Brian Roberts did a soft sell for the new initiative with Twitter to introduce a “See It” button on the social media platform that would act as a remote control to bring users directly to certain TV shows. “We want to promote live television,” he said. “Whether that will move ratings, I don’t know.”
The animation hit helped to offset some of the expected weakness at NBC‘s broadcasting unit, which faced tough comparisons with last year when it had the London Olympics. All told, net income attributable to Comcast came in at $1.73B, -18% vs last year’s Q3, on revenues of $16.15B, -2.4%. The top-line figure is lower than the $16.25B analysts had expected. But earnings at 65 cents a share beat forecasts for 61 cents. NBCUniversal was a mixed bag with revenues falling 14.2% to $5.85B and operating cash flow +9.6% to $1.25B — though the company says revenues would have been +3.9% if you factor out the contributions from last year’s Olympics. The cable networks showed 4.0% revenue growth to $2.24B, helped by a 5.4% increase in affiliate fees and 4.6% increase in ad sales — but a 6.5% drop in content licensing. NBC broadcasting needed more explaining with revenues -41.1% to $1.64B. The loss of the $1.2B from the Olympics overshadowed a 2.6% increase in retransmission consent fees and an equal increase in ad revenue. The filmed entertainment unit had a simpler story with revenues +3.3% to $1.4B — but operating cash flow +164.1% to $189M. Despicable Me 2 drove the results, though it was offset somewhat by lower home entertainment results as the studio had fewer releases this quarter than it had last year.
NBCUniversal’s Symphony Initiative, of which we’ve heard so much of late, will reach a deafening crescendo on October 29, when the networks of NBCU will do its best to make sure you see a new promo for …
NBCUniversal and Comcast have named Maggie McLean Suniewick their SVP Strategic Integration. She will spearhead NBCUniversal’s key “Symphony” initiatives across the company’s properties and with Comcast Corp, which owns NBCU. By “Symphony,” Comcast is referring to the companwide marketing initiative to promote upcoming NBCU programming, movies and events, including the Olympics, as well as Comcast’s products and services, across the portfolio to drive awareness and help connect with consumers. In addition, Symphony projects include major strategic initiatives like the conglom’s TV Everywhere efforts. Suniewick will report to NBCU CEO Steve Burke and Neil Smit, President and CEO of Comcast Cable and EVP of Comcast Corp. From today’s announcement:
Bet you can guess which two Esquire magazine franchises have been ordered as specials by NBCU’s Esquire Network. If you guessed the franchises are: women, and bars — you’re right! Women We Love is an hour-long “celebration of some of the most captivating, impressive and alluring women from entertainment, sports, pop culture and more.” And we’re guessing you’ve already figured out it’s going to coincide with the mag’s annual “Sexiest Woman Alive” issue in November in which Scarlett Johansson is, for a second time, named SWA — because Esquire is apparently running out of them. In the magazine, Johansson says, sexily, “You know, I gotta hustle…I’m a 28-year-old woman in the movie business, right? Pretty soon the roles you’re offered all become mothers. Then they just sort of stop.” In the cable TV special, “fascinating women who inspire us with their beauty, intelligence, style and passions” will “share their thoughts on everything that inspires and interests them, from their work to travel, fashion, humor and relationships.” Women We Love will premiere Tuesday, November 19 at 8 PM ET, produced by Wilshire Studios with Jennifer Lane serving as executive producer.
Emilio Romano: the latest to pass through the NBCUniversal revolving door. Romano, president of NBCU’s Spanish-language Telemundo operations, had overseen Telemundo network, its O&O stations, international operations, and mun2, and production facilities for two years. His exit was announced this morning by Joe Uva, NBCU’s chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content since February, when Lauren Zalaznick gave up oversight of the network as part of the crowning of Bonnie Hammer as queen of the NBCU Cable kingdom. Zalaznick, who’d been moved over to ditigal “monetization” and emerging technology, resigned last month after 12 years with the company.
“I am writing to you today to let you know about an important management change. After a successful two years, Emilio Romano has decided to leave the company,” Uva said this morning in a memo to staff:
Former NBCUniversal attorneys John Berlinski and Mansi Shah have switched sides to form a new entertainment litigation practice at national firm Kasowitz, …
The writing had been on the wall since the February reorganization at NBCUniversal when the company merged the cable network portfolios of chairmen Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick under Hammer. In the restructuring, Lauren Zalaznick took on a new role as EVP NBCUniversal, “focusing on innovation, digital, monetization and emerging technology across the company.” Steve Burke just announced Zalaznick’s exit from the company after a 12-year tenure. Like Hammer, Zalaznick was a rising star at NBC Universal, originally making her mark running Trio and then growing fledgeling Bravo into a formidable asset. After the Comcast merger, she added to her purview cable network Style, Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo and digital properties — including red-hot Fandango, which doubled its market share on her watch. (Telemundo has handed over to Joe Uva in February, while Hammer recently dropped the Style brand, transforming the network into Esquire.) While I hear Zalaznick was originally intrigued by her new role, she became itchy to return to an executive position where she runs a business vs. the more of a “suit” advisory post she was in. About three weeks ago, she approached NBCU CEO Steve Burke about transitioning out, and the plan was put into motion. Zalaznick is expected to return to the executive ranks, but maybe not at a traditional TV company. She has been interested in the junction between content and technology and has been advising and investing in several startups in that area. Read Burke’s memo — which also lays out the succession plan, with Cesar Conde taking on the bulk of Zalaznick’s reports — after the jump:
Salil Mehta had been COO and CFO of NBCUniversal‘s Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media division since 2011. Now he has jumped to join 20th Century Fox Film as President of Content Management, a newly created position in which he will coordinate the studio’s content distribution in all media to maximize returns and generate new revenue opportunities. He also will be responsible for the digital media division and overseeing the studio’s worldwide TV distribution. In addition, he will be responsible for the company’s strategic planning and business development, including emerging media platforms, and will oversee Fox’s technology and engineering activities. He’ll report to Fox Film chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos.
EXCLUSIVE: With the new The Tonight Show launch coming in February, NBC is looking to ramp up Jimmy Fallon‘s writing staff. It is also looking for a lot of free work from potential scribes in guidelines that went out about a month ago. Though not an uncommon practice, such requests are prohibited under WGA rules. In this case, the extensive call for submission packets has triggered a complaint to WGA West filed last week, I’ve learned. The writers are concerned that the more evergreen material could end up on the show even if the writer who submitted it ends up not being hired. The guild is contacting NBCUniversal about the matter. Here’s Fallon‘s submission request:
Below are guidelines for Late Night with Fallon sketch submissions:
Applicants should come up with 3 ideas for low-production desk pieces. We’re not looking for scripts for each of them, just a good title, a few sentences that describe the bit and a few examples of what the jokes would be.
STEP 2: ADDITIONAL SKETCH IDEAS
We’re looking for 3 ideas for in-studio character pieces, audience plants, games, or ideas for pre-taped shorts or television parodies. Again, this entails a few sentences that describe the bit and a few examples of what the jokes would be.
STEP 3: ONE FULL SCRIPT
Choose your favorite sketch idea from the steps above and write one full script for it.
STEP 4: MONOLOGUE JOKES
We’d like to see 10 monologue jokes to get a sense of joke writing style.
NEW YORK, September 19, 2013 – NBCUniversal today announced the appointment of Comcast executive Marlene Sanchez Dooner to Executive Vice President, Hispanic Enterprises & Content (HEC). Dooner will report to Joe Uva, Chairman, Hispanic Enterprises & Content, NBCUniversal. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Investor Relations at Comcast Corporation and will transition to NBCUniversal in New York at the end of this year.
In this newly created position, Dooner will work closely with Uva to develop the company’s initiatives and new business opportunities in the Hispanic marketplace across NBCUniversal’s networks and platforms. Additionally, she will oversee financial planning, strategic initiatives and business development for the company’s Hispanic franchises, including Telemundo and mun2.
“Marlene’s impressive experience navigating and analyzing the media business will help us drive new opportunities and partnerships in the U.S. Hispanic community across the company,” said Uva. “NBCUniversal’s portfolio reaches more than 90 percent of all Hispanics and I have no doubt Marlene will play an integral role in expanding our offerings and connections to the fastest growing segment of the population.”
NEW YORK – September 13, 2013 – NBCUniversal announced today that Cesar Conde will join the company as an Executive Vice President reporting to Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer, NBCUniversal. Conde comes to NBCUniversal from Univision, where he served as President since 2009.
In this newly created role, Conde will focus on business development, strategic priorities and special business projects across the NBCUniversal portfolio of assets. He also will oversee the International Group led by the newly appointed Chairman Kevin MacLellan. Conde will be a member of the NBCUniversal Executive Committee.
“Cesar is an impressive business executive with both traditional and emerging media expertise,” said Burke. “His experience leading multiple domestic and international businesses will be instrumental in maximizing all the opportunities to grow our portfolio.”
The NBCUniversal chief puts the gap at as much as $1B even though NBC has “essentially the same cost structure” as ABC, CBS, and Fox. That’s bad news, right? Not to Steve Burke. He told investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference today that it “represents a huge opportunity” to grow. Burke is upbeat about collecting more cash from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors. NBC made “virtually nothing” from cable and satellite companies two years ago and expects to see $200M in payments this year. That should continue to grow with 75% of NBC’s distribution deals expiring over the next three years. With other networks commanding big increases — including CBS from its recent showdown with Time Warner Cable — Burke sees “no reason why we won’t draft behind other broadcasters.” NBC also should see improvement in ad rates, which he says sell at about a 20% discount to its rivals. “Our ratings are lower than we’d like them to be.” That discount “will go away” although “it may not be in a year.” He expects big improvements this year with the Winter Olympics running on NBC in February, the middle of the broadcast season. “It will be a great launch pad for all of our spring shows….We feel like we’re putting ourselves in a position to do better this fall and spring.” Burke adds that his outlays for programming are under control — appreciating “in the mid-to-high single digit range” each year, although he hasn’t set budgets for next year yet.
London – 10 September 2013 – Kevin MacLellan has been promoted to the role of Chairman, NBCUniversal International, following Jeff Shell’s move to Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group in Los Angeles.
With more than 25 years of experience in international and domestic television production, programming and management, MacLellan is based in London. Effective immediately, MacLellan will take responsibility for day-to-day operations and lead international expansion opportunities, increasing non-US revenues and driving collaborative business growth across NBCUniversal operations outside North America, including Theatrical, Home Entertainment, Theme Parks and Television distribution, networks and production. Additionally, MacLellan will continue Shell’s prior remit in supporting Comcast’s overseas expansion strategy. In his new role, MacLellan will join the Executive Committee of NBCUniversal.
Steve Burke commented, “Over 12 years with Comcast, Kevin MacLellan has proven himself to be a dynamic and talented executive. With his extensive international experience, I am confident Kevin’s strategic leadership will take NBCUniversal International into its next phase of growth.”
Belinda Menendez (President, International TV Distribution & Universal Networks International) and Michael Edelstein (President, International Television Production) will continue to report to MacLellan in his new capacity. Additionally, MacLellan will work in close partnership with David Kosse (President, International, Universal Pictures), overseeing international film operations and Eddie Cunningham (President, UPIE), who manages Universal’s international home entertainment business.