September 28, 2020

Chris McCumber to Exit as USA Network and Syfy President

Chris McCumber is the latest longtime executive at NBCUniversal to depart amid the wide-scale restructuring at NBCUniversal.

On Tuesday, Frances Berwick laid out the leadership team for her Entertainment Business unit, which will be in charge of programming strategy and content spend across all of NBCU’s networks. In the new structure, Jeff Bader will be in charge of program planning for all six of NBCU’s cable entertainment networks, in addition to his current role with the NBC broadcast network.

Last month, Berwick was named the head of NBCU’s new Entertainment Business unit, which will be in charge of programming strategy and content spend across all of NBCU’s networks. The move was part of a massive restructuring under NBCU CEO Jeff Shell. The new structure involves three new business units: Direct to Consumer, Entertainment Programming and Entertainment Business.

“After nearly 20 years at this tremendous company, this has not been an easy decision. Yet I believe wholeheartedly that NBCUniversal is taking the right steps by creating a new organization built for the future,” McCumber said in announcing his departure. “It’s difficult to encapsulate two decades into one note. Together as a team, we helped make USA Network the #1 cable entertainment network for a record 14 years, rebooted SYFY with a fan-first perspective, won a slew of awards, and created some of television’s most popular programs of all time. But beyond all the successes and accolades, what I’ll remember most is the special bond that we had as a team. A bond built on trust, mutual respect, and of course, having a lot of fun making great content.”

McCumber led USA since 2011 and Syfy since 2016 and will conclude a 19-year tenure overall with the company.

Warner Bros. TV president Susan Rovner is expected to run the Entertainment Programming unit. Under Shell, NBCU is closely aligning its broadcast and entertainment cable networks, while at the same time splitting up the business and content creation into separate silos.

Here’s the new leadership structure under Berwick:

  • Jeff Bader will lead program planning, adding the six cable entertainment networks to his current NBC oversight.
  • Val Boreland will expand her responsibilities of buying and expertly curating content across the Entertainment and Lifestyle cable group to oversee acquisitions across all of our networks and platforms including Peacock.
  • Liz Mahaffey will now add to her remit research and insights for the entertainment brands, centralizing and prioritizing our audience intelligence efforts and driving cross platform insights. She will also manage the corporate research function.
  • Lauren McCollester will be head of business affairs.
  • Jenny Storms, who serves as CMO of NBC Sports, will add entertainment marketing to her purview (she will continue to report into Pete Bevacqua, President, NBC Sports Group for her sports responsibilities).
  • Chip Sullivan, will now take on the role of head of communications across all entertainment networks.  Chip’s responsibilities will encompass internal and external communications, publicity and talent relations.
  • Holly Tang will lead finance across the entertainment content and business division.

“And while change can bring challenges, it also brings opportunity,” Berwick said in an internal memo. “By aligning resources and harnessing expertise from across our portfolio, we can build centralized teams that are more nimble, innovative, and overall better equipped to compete in this ever-evolving content landscape.”

Peacock chief Matt Strauss will be in charge of the Direct-to-Consumer unit, while continuing to lead Peacock, which will maintain its own separate team within the division. International Networks, run by Ken Bettsteller, and Fandango, run by Paul Yanover, will report to Strauss. NBC Sports will continue to be led by Pete Bevacqua. Telemundo Enterprises will remain separate under new chief Beau Ferrari. Mark Lazarus leads the entire TV and streaming group as NBCU’s chairman of television and streaming

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