NBCUniversal reshuffles top management; Jeff Shell to replace Steve Burke as CEO

The announcement comes just months ahead of the launch of the its much-awaited Peacock streaming service

Comcast Corporation made it official on Monday that NBCUniversal's chief executive officer Steve Burke will retire in 2020. Jeff Shell will take over as the media giant's new CEO, which was also confirmed by Comcast alongside Burke's departure.

The news comes a few days after insiders confirmed that there's going to be a major change at the media company's top management. Moreover, the change comes at a time when the traditional television and film distribution industry faces stiff competition from streaming giants. This has seen a number of media companies making changes at their top management.

End of a long association

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Jeff Shell will take over as the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal from January 1, while Burke will retire on August 14, 2020. Burke during this period will switch to the role of NBCUniversal's Chairman. Following Burke's retirement Burke's retirement, Shell will directly start reporting to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

"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," said Robert.

Sixty-one-year-old Burke has been with NBCUniversal since the Comcast acquired the company in 2011. Prior to that Burke was the COO of Comcast for 11 years and was heading its cable division. Burke played a major role in the unprecedented success tasted by NBCUniversal. Under his leadership NBCUniversal achieved the fastest annual growth rate of any major media company.

Change comes at a critical time

The Comcast NBC logo
The Comcast NBC logo Reuters

Comcast's decision to retire Burke from the role of NBCUniversal's CEO comes at time when the company is gearing up for the launch of its Peacock streaming service in April. Burke was preparing the company for this launch but will now quit just four months within the launch.

Peacock is likely to become one of the NBCUniversal's key properties as it will be competing with the likes of Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Disney+. The streaming war is heating up and at the same time they are giving stiff competition to traditional television services. It now needs to be seen how the streaming services shapes up without Burke.