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NBCU unveils streamer, rejigs team

NBCUniversal (NBCU) is to launch its own streaming service in early 2020 and has made a series of senior management appointments as part of a significant reshuffle.

Steve Burke

The ad-supported streamer, which is yet to be named, will be headed by NBCU’s cable executive Bonnie Hammer who will become chairman of NBCU’s direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises arm.

The streamer is set to become available for free to the company’s existing pay TV subscribers in the US and globally via Sky in Europe, which it acquired last year.

An advertising-free service will also be made available along with a service for those without a pay TV subscription, both at an undisclosed fee.

Details of shows to be offered are scant but US trades have reported that NBCU will still license some of its programmes to third parties, while NBCU CEO Steve Burke has admitted it would allow his company to gain control over its own shows, such as the US version of The Office, which is licensed to Netflix.

Hammer was most recently chairman at NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, with a remit that covered networks including Bravo, USA and Syfy. She also oversaw production arms Universal Cable Productions.

Details of NBCU’s streaming plans, first broken by Variety, come as WarnerMedia and Disney prepare to launch their own services in response to the soaring growth of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

NBCU holds a 30% stake in the latter, with Disney set to control 60% once the deal to acquire 21st Century Fox assets is completed later this year.

NBCU’s The Office is currently licensed to Netflix

NBCU already operates reality-focused streaming service Hayu around the world, having launched it in 2016.

Steve Burke, NBCU’s CEO, said the new service would be “different to those presently in the market and it will be built on the company’s strengths, with NBCU’s great content and the technology expertise, broad scale and the wide distribution of Comcast Cable and Sky.”

With Hammer managing the streamer, her remit will be overseen by Mark Lazarus, who previously handled NBC Sports.

Elsewhere, Jeff Shell, who had been Universal Filmed Entertainment (UFE) Group chairman, has been promoted to chairman of NBCU Film and Entertainment, covering NBC Entertainment, Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo and NBCU’s international division.

Cesar Conde, who works across the latter two arms, will report to Shell, who will in turn be replaced by Donna Langley at UFE. She will also report to Shell and will have oversight of home entertainment.


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