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NBCUniversal Shakeup: Bonnie Hammer to Head Studios, Paul Telegdy Goes Solo at NBC (EXCLUSIVE)

Comcast's Matt Strauss takes Peacock reins; George Cheeks moves back to production

Bonnie Hammer Matt Strauss Paul Telegdy George Cheeks split
Courtesy of Universal

NBCUniversal on Monday unveiled a management shakeup that will see Bonnie Hammer shift from launching the Peacock streaming platform to overseeing all broadcast and cable studio operations. Comcast veteran Matt Strauss is joining NBCUniversal as the new head of Peacock, while Paul Telegdy will become the solo chairman of NBC Entertainment, multiple sources close to the situation have confirmed.

George Cheeks, who has spent the past 12 months as co-chair of the NBC Entertainment broadcast division alongside Telegdy, will shift to a vice chair role under Hammer, who will serve as chairman of NBCUniversal Content Studios. She reports to Steve Burke, NBCU CEO.

The restructuring is said to be driven by NBCU’s desire to consolidate oversight of its parallel broadcast and cable production operations, a move made by a number of NBCU’s rivals in recent years. Hammer will continue to report to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. After spending the past nine months getting Peacock off the ground as chairman of direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises, Hammer will shift her focus to supplying original content to Peacock and NBCU’s other outlets, as well as third-party buyers. As part of the restructuring, Hammer has signed a multi-year contract extension.

“Bonnie’s great taste, deep Hollywood relationships, and strong track record of generating popular and award-winning programming make her ideally suited to oversee this new division. With our studios being a main pipeline for Peacock’s original content, she will continue to be integral to the future success of our streaming business,” said Burke.

Universal Television, which produces for NBC as well as streaming and cable outlets, and Universal Content Productions will remain distinct entities run by their current presidents: Pearlena Igbokwe and Dawn Olmstead, respectively. There is likely to be consolidation and sharing of resources in overlapping back-office and administrative functions. Igbokwe and Olmstead will jointly report to Cheeks and Hammer.

The latest NBCU senior management restructuring comes 10 months after Burke made big changes in dividing the film and TV assets along West Coast and East Coast lines under Jeff Shell, chairman of NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment, and Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News. At that time Hammer shifted from overseeing NBCU’s linear entertainment cable portfolio to an assignment from Burke to launch Peacock. Last month, Hammer’s team unveiled the name and initial programming slate for the service NBC aims to launch in April.

Telegdy and Cheeks were named co-chairs of NBC Entertainment in September 2018, following the exit of Robert Greenblatt after an eight-year run. Telegdy is the well-liked British showman who scored in his tenure at NBC with “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” “American Ninja Warrior” and other unscripted hits. He joined NBC from the BBC in 2008 and has headed alternative programming since 2011. He continues to report to Shell.

While shifting most of his focus to Universal TV and UCP, Cheeks will continue to oversee late-night programming matters for NBC, as he did prior to his promotion to co-chair in September 2018. Cheeks previously straddled duties at NBC and UCP in his role as co-president of UCP and NBC’s president of late-night. He joined NBC in 2012 from Viacom.

Strauss, a longtime Comcast executive, is set to be named chairman of Peacock, the advertising-supported streaming platform that NBC aims to launch in April. He will also oversee other digital enterprises for NBC, reporting to Burke.

The move is a big step up in profile for Strauss, who joined Comcast in 2004. He’s worked in new media development as well as managing Comcast’s Xfinity content platform and galvanizing the company’s expansive on-demand offerings. Most recently, he was exec VP of Xfinity services for Comcast Cable, overseeing all of Comcast’s residential cable and broadband services.

“I worked with Matt for many years at Comcast Cable, and know firsthand that he is one of the most talented leaders in our company,” Burke said. “He has great experience with video, digital technology, and streaming and is the right person for the role at this juncture.”

(Pictured: Bonnie Hammer, Matt Strauss, Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks)