Steve Burke to step down as CEO of NBCUniversal

Jeff Shell will take over a company in transition, most notably as entertainment companies move to take on competitors from the tech industry.
Steve Burke, president and chief executive officer of NBCUniversal Media LLC, speaks at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Steve Burke, president and chief executive officer of NBCUniversal Media LLC, speaks at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Jason Abbruzzese and Dylan Byers

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke will step down at the end of the year, making way for Jeff Shell to run the media and entertainment conglomerate, Comcast announced Monday.

Burke will be replaced by Jeff Shell, who is currently head of NBCUniversal's film and network television operations. Shell will become CEO on Jan. 1, at which point Burke will become chairman of the company until he retires in August 2020.

The timing of the move will keep Burke as chairman until after the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, a major event for NBC's broadcast and sports operations.

Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC News.

Shell will take over a company in transition, most notably as entertainment companies move to take on competitors from the tech industry including Netflix, Amazon and Apple. NBCUniversal is preparing to launch its own direct-to-consumer subscription service, Peacock.

Brian Roberts, Comcast's chief executive officer, thanked Burke in a news release.

"When Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011, I never imagined it would become the fastest growing media company. Steve’s leadership and the team that he built has had everything to do with this outstanding performance,” Roberts said.

Burke has worked for NBCUniversal for 22 years, moving from Disney to run Comcast's cable arm before transitioning to NBCUniversal.

"While this has been a dream job, it has always been my plan to hand off the baton at the right moment and move on to the next chapter of my life where I can pursue a different set of interests," Burke said in the release. "It is great to know I am leaving the company in terrific hands with Jeff, who is the right leader to usher in the next phase of growth and success for NBCUniversal.”

Two sources familiar with Burke’s decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to comment publicly said he made the decision to leave and that Shell’s appointment was part of a succession plan that has been in motion since January, when Shell’s role was expanded to add NBC Entertainment, Telemundo and the company’s international division.

The sources said Burke’s plans after leaving NBCU were not clear.