NBCU: More Layoffs, Restructuring, Plus Mobile Gaming Shutdown, Ahead Of Peacock Launch

As it continues to position for entering the streaming wars with the April 2020 launch of its just-named Peacock platform, NBCUniversal yesterday announced more layoffs and executive changes, as well as the closure of its mobile gaming division.

Frances Berwick, president of NBCU’s Lifestyle Networks, has been consolidating in the Cable Entertainment Lifestyle Network group to better position the unit to compete against Netflix and Hulu TV, notes Fox Business.

Berwick announced the latest executive changes in an internal memo published first by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Today the Lifestyle Group is making some changes to better organize ourselves for the future," Berwick wrote. “I’m confident that this new structure, which creates multi-brand roles, will allow us to continue to grow the business and optimize our internal talent."

The changes include layoffs of 45 staff, according to various trade reports. That represents less than 5% of employees across the Entertainment & Lifestyle Group, which includes Bravo, E! and Oxygen, among other brands. 

E! laid off between 20 and 25 staff last month, and Adam Stotsky stepped down after five years as president of E! on September 9. Berwick added oversight of Stotsky’s responsibilities to her existing roles.

The new round of layoffs includes Amy Introcaso-Davis, executive vice president of development and production at E!, and Jerry Leo, head of Oxygen and Bravo program strategy, whose roles are being eliminated in a consolidation of Bravo and E! development.

Rachel Smith, currently SVP, Bravo development, has been promoted to EVP development, Bravo and E!.  Rod Aissa, currently EVP, programming and development for Oxygen, will add production for E! as EVP, original programming, Oxygen and E! production. Shari Levine continues as EVP production, Bravo.

All of these roles now report directly to Berwick. Holly Tang, CFO and head of production operations, and Dave Kaplan, SVP strategic insights and research for Lifestyle Networks, continue to report to Berwick. 

Other changes include the promotion of Jen Neal, previously EVP E! marketing and live events, to general manager, E! news, live events and lifestyle digital. Neal will now oversee the expanded E! news operation and manage digital assets across Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Universal Kids, as well as continuing to  oversee live events at E!.

Ellen Stone, currently EVP Marketing Bravo, Oxygen and Universal Kids, will assume responsibility for E! marketing as EVP, marketing, Lifestyle Networks, creating a single marketing team across all four Lifestyle brands.

Jennifer Geisser, SVP communications for Bravo, Oxygen and Universal Kids, is adding E! and oversight of talent relations for Lifestyle Networks.

Val Boreland, currently EVP, content strategy for the Entertainment Networks, will expand her role to EVP, content strategy, Entertainment & Lifestyle Group, leading program scheduling and acquisition teams across USA, SYFY, Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Universal Kids.

Boreland will also manage a newly centralized promotion scheduling team across all six channels of the Entertainment & Lifestyle group. She ill co-report to Berwick and Chris McCumber, president, Entertainment Networks.

E! vice president of unscripted development Betsy Slenzak is moving to Peacock in essentially the same role, according to Fox Business. Slenzak will work under Bill McGoldrick, who is now heading Peacock. He previously oversaw programming for NBCUniversal’s Syfy and USA Network cable brands.

The closing of NBCU’s two-year old Universal Games and Digital Platforms division, amid an increasingly competitive mobile games environment, reflects its decision to shift its Universal Brand Development division’s investment and games focus to “opportunities that don’t require mobile self-publishing,” an NBCU spokesperson told THR. “This will allow UBD to deepen their licensing and partnership opportunities across all gaming platforms."

The division’s mobile games releases included “Minions,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Jurassic World.”

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