The shocking departure of Mr. Shell, 57, marks an abrupt turnaround for him after nearly two decades ascending at Comcast. Mr. Shell rose steadily through the ranks at the cable company turned media giant, becoming CEO of NBCUniversal in 2020 after predecessor Steve Burke stepped down.
Prior to becoming CEO, Mr. Shell held a number of high-profile positions in the media division. In 2013, he was tapped to helm the Universal movie studio, which Comcast recently acquired in a massive deal with GE. He succeeds longtime Universal CEO Ron Meyer, who left the company in 2020 after saying he was the victim of an attempt to “blackmail” him over a previous extramarital affair.
At 57, Mr. Kavanaugh is Mr. Roberts’ turned confidant whose shares in Comcast have risen steadily since he joined the company in 2015. Last year, Mr. Kavanaugh was named Comcast’s chairman — the third person to hold that position. position in the company’s history – and is widely viewed internally as the most likely internal candidate to succeed Mr. Roberts as CEO.
Even before his abrupt departure Sunday, Shell’s status as CEO of NBCUniversal was, at times, uncertain. Last year, Comcast discussed merging NBCUniversal with Electronic Arts, a deal that could have led to a new role for Mr. Shell at Comcast, according to two people familiar with the talks. In the end, this deal never went through, and Mr. Shell stayed on as Head of Media.
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, has been enjoying some momentum in recent months, but it’s still small compared to its peers. Peacock has more than 20 million paid subscribers, far less than Netflix (232 million) or the Warner Bros. offerings. Discovery for HBO Max and Discovery+ (96 million). Some major media companies’ live broadcast companies are still losing money, and Peacock is no exception. It lost about $2.5 billion last year and is expected to lose another $3 billion this year.
NBCUniversal also owns several cable networks, including Bravo and E! and MSNBC and USA, which are facing declining viewership of traditional television. Its broadcast network NBC also lost viewers to its prime time programming.
Although Universal Pictures is not the biggest movie studio in Hollywood, it is a huge success. Some of the highlights of 2022 include “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Minions: Rise of Gru”. The year started off stronger, with “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” closing in on $900 million in global ticket sales after just three weekends in theaters, making it the company’s highest-grossing animated film in its history.
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