Bob Greenblatt is planning to step down as NBC Entertainment chairman, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Greenblatt has begun negotiating his exit with the network despite securing an extension last year that continued his contract past its original end date of 2017.
It’s unclear when exactly the executive will depart the network, but it will likely be later in the TV season, with any successor installed in time for the upfronts in May. A representative for NBC declined to comment.
Greenblatt is said to have started mulling an exit plan after the sudden death of longtime friend and collaborator Craig Zadan in August. It also has been suggested that he firmed up his decision last weekend prior to Monday’s Primetime Emmy Awards. The exec is expected to meet with NBCUniversal boss Steve Burke over the weekend to discuss an exit strategy.
Greenblatt will be the rare broadcast executive to go out on top. Since joining the network in 2011 and first serving as entertainment president, the programmer has shepherded the network to a near-uncontested No. 1 in ratings among the key demo of adults 18-49. NBC did that in 2016-17 without aid from either the Super Bowl or an Olympic Games. And, in 2017-18, the network’s successful run among total viewers saw it edge out CBS in the summer to finish as the most-watched network in all of TV for the broadcast year.
The Greenblatt strategy has been one of big swings (see niche comedies like The Good Place) with broad appeal. His suite of Dick Wolf-produced dramas also has been a huge factor in the network’s stability. True bona fide hits have come from music competition series The Voice, America’s Got Talent and a slew of other alternative offerings from reality czar Paul Telegdy.
This Is Us has also been a massive breakout, the rare scripted hit on broadcast that has achieved both ratings, as the No. 1 drama on broadcast, and critical acclaim. (It was the only broadcast series to be nominated for the best drama Emmy in both 2017 and 2018.)
Greenblatt’s sensibility, one of an avid Broadway fan, inspired the push for annual live musicals — some of which have been massive successes, like the first staging of The Sound of Music in 2013.
It is a particularly fraught time in broadcast for another executive turnover. Disney’s upcoming acquisition of Fox’s entertainment properties will orphan the Fox broadcast network and prompt changes at both Fox and ABC. The current leadership at CBS, appointed by now-ousted Leslie Moonves in 2017, has only been on the job for a year.