Who Could Replace Jeff Shell as NBCUniversal’s CEO?

A new CEO must lead the company through the cord-cutting phenomenon and turn Peacock profitable.

Donna Langley stands in front of a microphone with arms wide.
Donna Langley heads the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and formerly reported to Jeff Shell. Variety via Getty Images

NBCUniversal is in need of a new chief executive to lead it through the uncertain cable television and streaming landscape.

Jeff Shell, the former CEO, is leaving the company following an inappropriate relationship with a colleague, NBCUniversal parent company Comcast (CMCSA) said in a statement yesterday (April 23).

“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down,” Shell said in the statement.

The departure comes as NBCUniversal is navigating choppy waters. Its cable properties—including Bravo, NBC and USA—are enduring a continued cord-cutting phenomenon that has already claimed 43 million American households, or half of the total, according to Insider Intelligence, a market research company. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, doubled its subscriber total to 20 million in 2022, but it also increased its losses, according to company financial filings. Peacock lost $2.5 billion last year, and its losses will increase in 2023, according to Michael Cavanagh, Comcast president

Who could replace Jeff Shell?

Cavanagh is in the running to replace Shell, according to the Wall Street Journal. Other potential successors include Mark Lazarus, who heads NBCUniversal’s television and streaming operations; Cesar Conde, who oversees the company’s news division; and Donna Langley, who leads the film department, according to the Journal. Conde and Langley reported to Shell and will work below Cavanagh until a new CEO is appointed.

Cavanagh’s background is primarily in investments and finances. He served as the chief financial officer for both Comcast and JPMorgan Chase, and as the co-CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s Corporate and Investment Bank. He has worked as president of Comcast since October.

As the streaming and television head since 2020, Lazarus leads the company’s cable networks and streaming business. He has worked at the company for more than a decade, having helped secure deals with the Olympics, the NFL and NASCAR. Under Lazarus’s leadership, NBC surpassed CBS as the most-watched network last year, for the first time since 2018. Prior to working at NBCUniversal, he was president of Turner Entertainment Group for five years, where he oversaw networks including TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network.

Conde manages the news operations, which include NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. In his role, which he has held since 2020, he helped expand NBC News NOW, the news network’s streaming platform, to have more hours of live programming than any other news streaming service, according to Forbes. It was also the first U.S.-based news streamer to reach an international audience. NBCUniversal also runs two other news streaming platforms, TODAY All Day and MSNBC on Peacock, which Conde oversees. He previously worked in the company’s international and digital divisions. He serves on the boards for Walmart and PepsiCo.

As the chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Langley works in the production, marketing and distribution for a series of NBCUniversal’s studios, including Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation. She has worked in this position since 2019, and previously as the head of Universal Pictures. She had her hands in franchises like Fast & Furious, Pitch Perfect, Despicable Me and Mamma Mia. In 2020, Queen Elizabeth II named Langley to her honors list.

Who Could Replace Jeff Shell as NBCUniversal’s CEO?