Jeff Zucker becomes president and CEO of NBC Universal, replacing Bob Wright who continues as a vice chairman of GE.
General Electric Co. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt today announced the appointment of Jeff Zucker as President and CEO of NBC Universal, succeeding Bob Wright, who held that job for 21 years and who will continue to serve as a GE vice chairman. Zucker’s appointment is effective today.
“Jeff will succeed one of the true giants in media—Bob Wright—to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for helping to build this great media company,” Immelt said. “By any measure, Bob is one of the most successful media executives ever. He transformed NBC from a broadcast network into a diversified global media company. He was always able to see what was coming next, whether it was cable, satellite, Hispanic broadcasting or digital media. Bob’s strategic vision and execution kept NBC growing.”
Zucker, 41, is a 21-year veteran of NBC Universal. As president and CEO, he will have responsibility for the strategic direction and operations of all NBC Universal properties. Zucker is one of the industry’s most experienced executives and has spent much of his career working in NBC’s news, sports, and entertainment divisions. As CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group since 2005, Zucker has overseen the company’s television programming and distribution operations, which account for two-thirds of the company’s overall profits.
“Jeff Zucker is a terrific talent and the right person to guide NBC Universal on the next stage of its growth,” Immelt said. “Jeff’s 20-plus years with NBC give him deep knowledge of the company’s strategy, people and culture. In the past few years, Jeff has shown that he is an energetic, focused leader who can rise to a challenge. His creative experience, expertise in news and broadcasting and intense passion for the business were immensely appealing to the Board and to me during this succession process.
“We have real business momentum, and the time is right to make this important transition,” Immelt said. “I like the team we have in place today, and believe that the future for NBCU is bright.”
In addition to serving as a vice chairman of GE, Wright will assist with the leadership transition at NBCU.
Immelt said, “Bob Wright has been a great GE leader. I am pleased that he will continue to serve as a GE vice chairman and that I will continue to have his counsel in our executive office and boardroom on a broad array of issues.”
Zucker said, “Bob has been a terrific mentor to me throughout my career, and I am honored to be his successor and fortunate to assume responsibility of a company that is so well positioned for future growth. I’ve spent my entire career at NBC and had the privilege to work with the best in the business every day. I look forward to continuing to work with this talented management team as we take NBC Universal to the next level.”
As CEO of NBCU’s television group, Zucker has overseen the company’s news, sports, and entertainment divisions; owned-and-operated television stations; cable entertainment properties, including USA, Sci Fi, and Bravo; cable news properties, CNBC and MSNBC; Spanish language network Telemundo; and the company’s television studio, first-run syndication, and global distribution efforts. Previously, Zucker had served as president of the NBC Entertainment, News & Cable Group. Before that, he was president of NBC Entertainment.
A five-time Emmy winner, Zucker also was executive producer of the Today show, where, NBCU said, “he turned the morning news program into the single-most profitable program on television.” Additionally, Zucker was executive producer of NBC’s coverage of several major events, including the “Decision 2000” election broadcast, the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations, and the Persian Gulf War.
Under Wright’s leadership, NBC’s revenues grew from $3 billion in 1986 to more than $16 billion in 2006. During his tenure, the company expanded its ownership of broadcast television stations, launched groundbreaking cable networks such as CNBC and MSNBC, and acquired fast-growing media assets such as Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo and the arts and entertainment cable network, Bravo. In 2004, Wright led NBC’s acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, creating NBC Universal. The acquisition added assets including the USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Universal Studios and Universal Parks in Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood.
Wright, 63, became chairman and chief executive officer of NBC Universal in May 2004 in conjunction with the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment. He became president and chief executive officer of NBC on Sept. 1, 1986, and became chairman and chief executive officer on June 4, 2001.
“It has been an honor and privilege to lead NBC Universal for the past twenty years,” Wright said. “I hand over the reins now with great pride in what we’ve accomplished and great confidence about what NBC Universal will become. We have momentum, outstanding support from GE and Vivendi, and a terrific executive in Jeff Zucker. I look forward to watching the next chapters of this wonderful company unfold under Jeff’s leadership.”
Before leading NBC, Wright served as president of General Electric Financial Services and, before that, as president of Cox Cable Communications.
NBC Universal is 80% owned by GE and 20% owned by Vivendi. The company’s board of directors comprises senior executives from GE/NBCU and Vivendi.