NBCUniversal’s new leader Mike Cavanagh improves top ranks

NBCUniversal's new leader Mike Cavanagh improves top ranks

Mike Cavanagh is starting to put his stamp on NBCUniversal.

Mr. Cavanagh, who took over the company in April, announced Thursday that he is giving the company’s film chief Donna Langley broader oversight of creative decisions for the company’s entertainment content, including movies and shows for its Peacock streaming service. TV shows included. Mark Lazarus, president of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, is also being promoted, giving him broader oversight over some of the company’s creative content business decisions.

Other executives who will remain on Mr. Cavanagh’s leadership team include Cesar Conde, president of NBCUniversal News Group, who will gain oversight of Telemundo and NBC’s local stations, and Mark Woodbury, the company’s parks chief.

Mr. Cavanagh is essentially reducing the number of executives who report directly to him, thereby streamlining the company’s leadership ranks. He will continue to work directly with Adam Miller, executive vice president overseeing operations and technology as well as communications, human resources and corporate social responsibility; Kim Harris, general counsel of the Company; and Anand Kini, NBCUniversal’s Chief Financial Officer.

The promotion was the first major step taken by Mr. Cavanagh after taking over the leadership of the company. Its previous chief executive, Jeff Schell, stepped down after a sexual harassment investigation.

In an internal memo, Mr. Cavanagh said the changes would allow NBCUniversal to avoid cord cutting — the abandonment of traditional pay-TV — and to better compete in a business environment filled with new rivals.

“I’m very excited to continue our great momentum and work with this team to drive NBCU forward,” he wrote.

Susan Rovner, president of entertainment content for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, is leaving the company as part of the restructuring, Mr. Cavanagh wrote. Frances Berwick will be promoted to President of NBCUniversal Entertainment, reporting to Mr. Lazarus and Ms. Langley.

Since taking over as Mr. Shell, Mr. Cavanagh has toured the company’s offices in Los Angeles, New York and London and met stars such as “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon. He has mostly tried to carry on with business as usual, and has told people he works with that as long as the company accepts Mr. Schell’s departure, things will stay the same.

Mr. Cavanagh has had to deal with unexpected turmoil in his short time in the role, including the sudden departure of Linda Yacarino, the company’s advertising sales chief, who left NBCUniversal to become Twitter’s chief executive. Ms Yacarino dropped out as the company was preparing its annual pitch to advertisers, known as upfronts, which account for a large portion of its revenue for the year.

To promote Ms. Langley, NBCUniversal is betting on an experienced creative executive with recent box office successes. Along with Chris Meledandri, chief executive of animation studio Illumination, Ms. Langley has created hits like “Super Mario Bros.,” which grossed more than $1 billion, and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which came out last year and worldwide grossed over $900 million worldwide.

Mr. Lazarus, who oversees NBCUniversal’s TV networks and the company’s streaming business, has been at the company for more than a decade. During his years at the company, Mr. Lazarus has been responsible for striking deals with the Olympics, the National Football League and the Premier League, and he has been a driving force in growing “Sunday Night Football,” the company’s flagship NFL program.

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