Shell World: NBCU Selects Steve Burke’s Successor


It’s official: The Chairman of the NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment unit will take on the role of CEO for all of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, as of January 2020.

An announcement made just before 9am ET Monday (12/16) confirmed rumors that CEO Steve Burke would be exiting. At the same time, it revealed who would be filling his shoes.

That would be Jeff Shell, who oversees the content creation, programming and distribution engines behind NBCUniversal’s film and network television businesses. Those include NBC Entertainment, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), Telemundo and NBCUniversal International.

Shell is also responsible “for driving the extensions of the company’s intellectual property and consumer product strategy with Universal Brand Development, as well as the expansion of the go-to destination for moviegoers with Fandango.”

Before rising to F&E CEO, Shell was Chairman of UFEG—a position he held since 2013.

Before that, Shell was Chairman of NBCUniversal International.

And, before that, Shell was at parent company Comcast: He as President of Comcast Programming Group, where he was responsible for managing Comcast’s national and regional television networks including E! Entertainment Network, the Golf Channel, International Channel Networks, and Comcast Sports Group.

The company veteran’s resume includes prior stints as CEO of Gemstar TV Guide, and in various executive roles at News Corporation — including as President of FOX Cable Networks Group.

And, before that, Shell was in a leadership position at The Walt Disney Company.

Filling Burke’s shoes may come as little surprise to Shell, who holds an MBA degree from Harvard University, or to industry observers who had pegged Shell as Burke’s heir apparent.

Unofficial word came Friday via the Los Angeles Times‘ Meg James, with Burke rumored to be remaining as CEO through the Summer Olympics.

That’s true: While Shell’s new role begins Jan. 1, 2020, Burke will move to the role of Chairman, shedding his CEO duties, and formally retire on August 14, 2020.

Under Burke’s leadership, the company won the broadcast rights for the Olympics in a landmark deal that locked in the games for NBC Sports through 2032.

Comcast Chairman/CEO Brian Roberts said, “I cannot thank Steve enough for the incredible impact he has had on this entire company. I will miss Steve’s trusted partnership, and I know I speak for both myself and my late father Ralph when I say that we will be forever grateful to him for shaping first Comcast and then NBCUniversal into the great companies they are today. When Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011, I never imagined it would become the fastest growing media company. Steve’s leadership and the team that he built has had everything to do with this outstanding performance.”

Prior to running NBCUniversal, Burke served as Chief Operating Officer of Comcast, following 11 years as President of its cable division. Before Comcast, Burke held several leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company, including as President of ABC Broadcasting, and President/COO of Euro Disney S.A. Burke serves on the board of directors of Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Speaking of Shell, Roberts continued, “Jeff … is the ideal executive to take the helm at NBCUniversal. He has a stellar track record across both the film and TV side of the business, as well as a wealth of international experience. I have worked closely with Jeff for many years and he is an extraordinary leader who inspires loyalty, delivers strong results and cares deeply about our company, its employees and partners. I could not be more confident in his ability to lead NBCUniversal into the future.”