Jeff Zucker is “nobody’s pawn”
Reuters has an interesting read on the “what ifs” for Jeff Zucker should Comcast take control of NBC Universal. The story goes into some of Zucker’s misses and hits as well and Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff isn’t betting against Zucker’s survival instincts should the Comcast deal come to pass.
The chief criticism is his failure to lift the NBC broadcast network out of last place in prime-time ratings. It is an uncomfortable spot for any network but particularly wretched for one that owned TV in the 1990s with blockbusters such as “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “Frazier.”
Another effort badly backfired. Two years ago, Zucker hired Ben Silverman, a young, popular producer, to kickstart NBC’s prime-time schedule. A number of missteps followed, described by Time magazine as “a string of wild parties, gaffes and high-profile flops” before Silverman left NBC in July.
Cable now makes up roughly 60 percent of NBC Universal’s revenue. That is the very reason the company has caught the eye of Comcast — and that may prove the best chance of staying aboard for Zucker, an avid tennis player and a cancer survivor.”I cannot imagine him in any situation being helpless,” said Wolff. “He’s nobody’s pawn.”
The story casts some doubts though on Zucker’s chances of sticking around should a deal get done simply because of strong relationship between Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Comcast’s second-in-command Steve Burke.