Lauren Zalaznick to Leave NBCUniversal

Exec who reanimated Bravo departing after 12 years

Lauren Zalaznick is leaving NBCUniversal after 12 years, following a reorganization in February that put the networks in her portfolio under the control of Bonnie Hammer.

In a memo to NBCU staffers, CEO Steve Burke on Friday said Zalaznick will stay at NBCU “to transition her current portfolio.” Upon completion of that phase, she will consult with the company “on digital media content and technology marketplace trends.”

Zalaznick’s time at NBCU was characterized by an ability to make the sometimes disparate parts of the company portfolio flex in unison, particularly in the advertising world. Under her watch, Bravo became the No. 1 cable network for clients looking to reach affluent viewers.

Over the past few years, she and Hammer acquired ever-broader and less-logical fiefdoms—Zalaznick oversaw Bravo, Oxygen and Style, but Hammer had E!; Zalaznick added digital and Hispanic responsibilities to her portfolio while Hammer took charge of the smaller Comcast nets.

When NBCU brass scaled back Zalaznick’s responsibilities, stripping her of the networks in favor of an evp position that would find her managing the company’s digital division, the writing was on the wall. Although NBCU at the time vehemently denied talk of her imminent departure, insiders characterized the shift as a demotion.

In the eight months since the reorg, Zalaznick has continued to be a visible part of the NBCU apparatus. In March, she appeared at SXSW to talk up TV Everywhere, and just weeks ago it was announced that she would receive the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award during January’s NATPE conference.

Over the years, Zalaznick has spearheaded a number of internal initiatives, including the Hispanics at NBCU and Women at NBCU campaign strategies—cross-platform buying plans that leveraged research across multiple networks and platforms in aid of a single demographic. The strategy prefigured NBCU’s highly successful cross-platform sales strategy, which allows (and, in some cases, requires) buyers to make purchases across multiple networks and media. The cable portfolio in Q2 raked in $2.41 billion in revenue.

Before NBCUniversal, Zalaznick worked at Viacom, where she’s still highly regarded. While it’s anyone’s guess what she does next, Zalaznick serves on advisory boards for more than one digital startup and has invested in several others.

“Those of you who know Lauren well know she is one of those rare executives that combine great creative instincts with a true business orientation,” Burke said. “Her contributions to our company have been significant and far-reaching. … She has been an important member of our team and we wish her well in the future.”