A day before television critics from across the country begin previewing fall shows from TV networks, NBC preempted the fun with news of a shakeup in the executive suite.
According to a press release, Jeff Gaspin has been named Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment, effective immediately. This move expands his role to now include oversight of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, in addition to all of his current duties overseeing the network’s cable businesses, including USA, SyFy, Bravo, Oxygen, Universal HD, Sleuth, and Chiller.
What the release doesn’t say is this: NBC has been struggling to find hit shows. And after a poor summer (think a couple weeks of non-top Heidi and Spencer Pratt – enuf said), overzealous spinning that good demos are better than ratings (i.e. Conan has been losing to Letterman but the network has repeatedly pointed out the Tilda Swinton look-a-like is killing among the highly coveted 18 to 49 year olds) and explaining that hits aren’t as important as selling advertising, it was clearly time to face reality – or at least try something new.
In addition to Gaspin’s promotion, Ben Silverman, who has been Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, has announced that he is returning to his entrepreneurial roots to form a new venture. He will remain in his current role for several weeks to assist in the launch of NBC’s fall schedule. Marc Graboff, who has also been Co-Chairman, will continue as Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, reporting to Gaspin.
Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal, said: “Jeff Gaspin is an extraordinary media professional who has had an incredible record of success in his 25 years in the business. He’s a strong creative executive who also has the business acumen necessary to succeed in today’s media environment. This new structure helps us align all of our television entertainment assets under one veteran executive at a time when continued innovation is essential.”
Zucker added: “Ben Silverman has many exciting things he wants to accomplish and we applaud him as he sets off on his new endeavors. Ben brought us tremendous new thinking in this changing media age, and we’re grateful for that. Now, we look forward to working with him in his new venture.”