Bonnie Hammer is taking over all cable properties at NBCUniversal, making her responsible for about half of the company's operating cash flow, according to an internal memo sent to staff by Steve Burke earlier today. Hammer has led USA to the top of the ratings heap on cable television; she's also helped realize growth at Syfy and E!.
Lauren Zalaznick will relinquish control of Bravo, Oxygen, Style and Sprout to Hammer; Joe Uva will take over the Hispanic properties including Telemundo. Zalaznick will maintain the oversight of NBCU's digital enterprises, but it looks like she's out of the cable game for the time being. She will be evp of NBCUniversal.
"Now, more than ever, we need to simplify our organization and take advantage of the breadth of our assets," said Burke. "I know that with this structure Bonnie and her team will maximize the power and profitability of this portfolio. Bonnie is a natural business leader and a strong creative force."
For years, Hammer and Zalaznick have ruled separate fiefdoms within the NBCUniversal media group, both with a chairman title over a buzzword-soup division (Hammer ran Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios; Zalaznick ran Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media) Each woman controlled a portfolio of cable assets that seemed to have increasingly little in common as the spoils of the Comcast merger were divided up—Zalaznick ran Oxygen, Style and Bravo, but Hammer oversaw E!; Zalaznick ran cross-promotions through the company's in-house media sales group that crossed over onto Hammer's properties. Initially, ad sales heads reported to both of them—former cable sales guru Dave Cassaro was under both execs, but current ad sales head Linda Yaccarino moved up the food chain earlier this year and now reports directly to Burke.
Zalaznick will keep on running NBCU's internal promotional apparatus, large chunks of which are of her own design. Zalaznick's Women at NBCU, Hispanics at NBCU, and NBCU Digital Council will continue to run under her oversight; she'll also be in charge of digital properties Fandango and Daily Candy; she'll also work closely with the consumer products division and on NBC's TV Everywhere initiatives. Zalaznick has an instinct for synergy—her own initiatives have succeeded largely by making executives and teams play nice across the NBCU brands—and Burke appears to have decided that ought to be her full-time gig.
"Lauren is a superb creative executive with an excellent track record of delivering results," he told staff. "She loves ideas and new ways of doing things. She also is innovative, energetic and focused on growth."
But the big kahuna—headship of the cable properties—goes to Hammer. It's a move that will make organizational structure much simpler, given the depth of Hammer's involvement in the production side of the business; the exec already runs Universal Cable Productions, which generates originals for Syfy, USA, and external networks like MTV and Fox as well.
Uva's hire removes from her purview the asset that made the least sense for Zalaznick's group: Telemundo and its associated properties. Emilio Romano, president of Telemundo, will report to Uva, whose CV lists not merely the top post at Univision (where Romano sat on the board during the 1990's), but also OMD Worldwide Group and NBCU cable arch-nemesis Turner, where he worked as head of sales and marketing for the entertainment group.
In the same announcement, NBCU let it be known that former head of Univision Joe Uva would take over as chairman of Hispanic enterprises and content.