NBCU forms Entertainment Networks group with USA, Syfy

The restructuring will see USA topper Chris McCumber (pictured) oversee the newly formed group as president and Syfy president David Howe take on the newly created role of president, strategy and commercial growth.
February 9, 2016

NBCU Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer has unveiled a restructuring akin to the formation of its Lifestyle cable group in 2014, which will see USA and Syfy grouped under the Entertainment Networks banner.

As part of the shuffle, USA topper Chris McCumber (pictured) will oversee the new group as president, and Syfy president David Howe will leave his position to take on the role of president, strategy and commercial growth across the NBCU cable portfolio.

“In this rapidly changing media environment, the biggest challenge is not only adapting to change, but staying one step ahead of it,” wrote Hammer in an internal memo obtained by realscreen. “That means continuing to re-think our playbook and developing a business model that’s as creative as it is effective, inventive as it is productive.

“The disruption today is so constant and so fast-moving that it calls for a fresh approach that will transform the way we conduct our business,” she continued, adding that the organizational changes would “help us to look beyond linear and uniquely position us for future success.”

Regarding Howe’s role, Hammer said the post is “an important position whose time has come, reflecting the need for a consolidated approach to a complex media landscape.” Howe, in Hammer’s words, will “bridge creative and business, exploring opportunities across the portfolio, experimenting with new business models, platforms and technologies.”

Dividing his time between New York and LA, Howe will oversee business affairs and business development and focus on overall growth of NBCU’s cable portfolio, domestically and internationally.

McCumber, with oversight of the newly formed Entertainment Networks group will have Syfy and USA as well as smaller nets Cloo and Chiller under his watch. “Chris has a proven track record for unlocking and maximizing the potential of a media brand,” wrote Hammer. “In his new role, he will be charged with streamlining processes that will maximize both creativity and efficiency at the networks.”

His direct reports will include Alexandra Shapiro, EVP, marketing; Rob Spodek, CFO; Katherine Nelson, SVP, communications; and David Giles, SVP, research.

The restructuring will also see all original scripted programming be centralized, with Bill McGoldrick named as EVP of scripted content for the portfolio, including Bravo, Syfy, USA and E! He will report to Jeff Wachtel, president, chief content officer and head of studios.

Meanwhile, Sandra Schon has been named SVP, marketing production for cable entertainment, and Sprout, a net which targets mothers and kids, is being added to the Lifestyle group, under the oversight of Frances Berwick.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.