Representing one of the first rounds of layoffs at the recently-merged Comcast-NBCU, Comcast is shuttering NBC Universal Digital Studio, its original web content division, after three years. The move will affect 11 positions over the course of the next few months, including studio head Cameron Death, who was named SVP/GM last August.
“Going forward we plan to focus our digital efforts and investment on content that’s supportive of our on-air programs, providing our audience with additional content that further engages them in our shows,” an NBC Universal spokeswoman said in a statement. “We’re proud of the accomplishments of The Digital Studio. This decision is simply about a change in strategy.”
Comcast-NBCU has also made changes to its sports and entertainment divisions over the past seven months.
The company plans to find other opportunities where possible for the executives affected as the digital studio is phased out, according to an AdAge report.
Since debuting, the Digital Studio has creating original series with brands such as American Family Insurance (“In Gayle We Trust”), Samsung (“Fact Checkers Unit”) and Hidden Valley Ranch (“Garden Party”). A third season of In Gayle We Trust will be completed before the unit shuts down completely.
RBR-TVBR observation: As much as we’ve seen original web content being attempted by Netflix, Hulu or Crackle, it’s been tough to get enough ad support to make it worthwhile–yet. Bringing existing network content over to the web is a much easier proposition. Other attempts at in-house, web-only content production houses include ABC’s Stage 9 (shuttered after 2 years in 2009); CBS’s “Around the World For Free” (an original reality web series) is all we’ve seen from them (summer 2010); and Fox created a digital studio in late 2009, but nothing has been produced yet.