Monday, December 19, 2005

Jeff Zucker Promoted - Future NBC Plans Include "West Wing" on I-Tunes?

The New York Times reported on Friday:
"NBC elevated Jeff Zucker, one of the fastest-rising executives in the network's history, to chief executive of the NBC Universal Television Group yesterday, establishing him as the likely successor to NBC's longtime leader, Bob Wright.
The move was announced by Mr. Wright, who remains chairman of NBC Universal as well as vice chairman of NBC's parent, General Electric, and it realigns NBC management, with Mr. Zucker at the top.
Randy Falco, who had been Mr. Zucker's equal and had been mentioned as a potential heir to Mr. Wright, was promoted to president and chief operating officer of NBC; he will report to Mr. Zucker.
The implications of Mr. Zucker's promotion were clear: Mr. Wright and the G.E. chairman, Jeffrey R. Immelt, have designated him as NBC's second-in-command.
Mr. Zucker, who had been on a different floor from Mr. Wright, will move his office to the 52nd floor of the NBC headquarters in Rockefeller Plaza, Mr. Wright's location.
NBC's announcement yesterday did not address the implications. The announcement was couched in terms of a realignment of NBC's television management in anticipation of more rapid changes in how TV content is sold and distributed.
When asked if the changes meant that Mr. Zucker was now positioned as his successor, Mr. Wright said jokingly, "Absolutely; all he has to do is survive 2006, 2007 and so forth." But he did not dispute the notion that the promotion put Mr. Zucker, who is 40, in line behind him.
Mr. Wright, who is 62, said he had no plans to retire soon, though he added, "I will retire at some point." Other NBC executives said that there was no timetable for a change and that Mr. Wright would remain in charge for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Wright acknowledged that NBC was challenged by its weak performance in prime time, where last year it plunged to the cellar after being the longtime network ratings leader. Mr. Wright said he had "no patience at all" with NBC's last-place standing in prime time.
Some NBC rivals have pointed to Mr. Zucker for that loss of momentum because he led NBC's entertainment division in California for four years before returning to New York just before the start of the 2004 television season.
But inside NBC and G.E., Mr. Zucker earned high marks for hanging onto NBC's leadership position in prime time for several years before the fall.
Mr. Immelt is known to be a strong supporter of Mr. Zucker, as well as of Mr. Falco, and is said to have shrugged off the decline in prime time as more cyclical than anything having to do with Mr. Zucker's performance.
Several NBC executives said that at least one reason for the timing of yesterday's announcement (beyond the need to accomplish it before the start of a long break for the holidays) was Mr. Immelt's desire to end the appearance of a competition between Mr. Zucker and Mr. Falco to succeed Mr. Wright."

A post at "Confessions of an Undercovoer Geek" directed this blog to an interview with Jeff Zucker from Broadcasting & Cable:
"Will you expand your offerings on iTunes?

Over the next couple of weeks, in fact, we will have many more announcements about many more shows there. We see it as a brand-new business, and it will be run like any television network, with new material refreshed and replenished all the time. I don't think there's a limit as to how many shows we can have available.

Do people want to watch 30- and 60-minute shows on smaller screens?

Every week there are 436,000 illegal downloads of Battlestar Galactica. Clearly, someone is downloading it and watching it on a smaller screen. Ever since iTunes went online with video, there have been 500,000 downloads per week. It's pretty clear people want to watch this stuff. Now, given that we are selling Battlestar Galactica for $1.99, there is finally a legitimate model in place."

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