Jeff Zucker has a new gig.
The former president of CNN Worldwide has been officially named CEO of RedBird IMI, a joint venture from Zucker, RedBird Capital Partners, and Abu-Dhabi-based International Media Investments that’s focused on acquiring and investing in large-scale media, entertainment, and sports content properties.
In addition to running IMI as CEO, Zucker has also joined RedBird Capital Partners as an Operating Partner.
“I’ve spent 35 years running media businesses at the intersection of news, sports, and entertainment, creating new brands and resurrecting old ones. That experience has given me unparalleled perspective for this unique time in media, and the combination of the RedBird and IMI capital and strategic discipline, combined with my operational experience, will give this joint venture a unique advantage in the current media landscape,” Zucker said.
RedBird IMI launches with an initial committed capital of $1 billion.
The private equity firm has a strong portfolio which includes a stake in Skydance Media; it recently acquired the Italian soccer club AC Milan; it is a lead investor in the soon-to-be-relaunched XFL and is part owner of the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Liverpool FC.
Sports dealing is in Zucker’s wheelhouse, something he did while also chairman of WarnerMedia’s sports division. He was instrumental in bringing the NHL to Turner Sports and securing long-term rights to Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Zucker, who began his media career in 1986 as a researcher for NBC Sports, was also heavily involved with sports when he was the president and CEO of NBCUniversal, ensuring that NBC Sports would be the long-term home of the Olympics.
Zucker, up until now, has largely kept a low profile since his resignation from CNN in early January after not disclosing his romantic relationship with former CNN head of communications and marketing Allison Gollust.
It will be interesting to see what happens with global sports media rights now that he is in the fold.