E! Combines Online, On-Air News Divisions, Ups Execs (Exclusive)

John Najarian - P 2015
Courtesy of NBC

John Najarian - P 2015

“We are positioning the network to better serve entertainment and pop culture fans with an authentic, relevant, consistent voice throughout our news platforms," says EVP John Najarian.

E!'s news divisions are coming under one roof.

Following a wave of executive changes, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network plans to integrate its E! News and the company's digital arm into a single division under the leadership of the network's executive VP of news and digital John Najarian. The move, which comes as the pace of news continues to accelerate in a 24/7 news cycle, will allow E!'s on-air and online divisions to leverage each other's strengths, both in terms of news gathering and storytelling across platforms.

“Creating an integrated organization is an important step as we evolve the network’s linear news strategy and multi-screen approach,” Najarian noted in a statement Tuesday. “We are positioning the network to better serve entertainment and pop culture fans with an authentic, relevant, consistent voice throughout our news platforms.”

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The potential reach of a combined entity is indeed compelling. Though E! News is still striving to be a go-to destination for breaking pop culture news, it is able to reach nearly 18 million viewers on a monthly basis and delivers an average viewer age that's nearly 20 years younger than its competitors. The far more nimble E! Online platform, for its part, is experiencing significant growth, up 79 percent year over year, with 39 million average monthly multi-platform uniques in the fourth quarter. Across TV and digital, the network's average reach in that period was 87 million.

As part of the planned shift, Najarian is not the only one whose role will expand. Among the newly upped: Romina Rosado, who previously was focused on the company's online unit, will now serve as senior VP content, news and digital, and will oversee content strategy, all news gathering, reporting and curation of content under one team for both E! News and E! Online; and Gerald Abrahamian is being upped to senior VP, product, technology and operations and will be tasked with leading cross-functional collaboration, managing digital product strategy and driving new revenue opportunities that maximize the linear/digital integration.

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Additionally, Edward Zarcoff will become senior VP, digital programming and production, and will oversee the network’s digital production efforts and ensures high-quality, innovative video content 24/7 on all platforms. And Bryce Kristensen, who is becoming VP, social and interactive experiences, will be responsible for aligning interactive and social strategy across the divisions and also will oversees all of E!’s social accounts and on-screen experiences. Jennifer Lavin will continue to manage the day to day production of E! News as its executive producer, but former Good Day L.A. vet, Lisa Kridos, who joined the network as the executive in charge of news in 2013, is departing.

The news comes nearly six months after E! president Suzanne Kolb was ousted, a move that set off a realignment of the NBCU cable networks into a lifestyles division run by NBCU Cable Lifestyle chief Frances Berwick. As part of the latter re-org, Esquire Network chief Adam Stotsky assumed additional responsibility over E!'s digital division as the network's GM. Not long after, E!'s former news and strategy president Cyndi McClellan announced her departure, with a promotion for Najarian following weeks later.