Burke, 61, is planning to leave the company after his contract expires in August, just after NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Tokyo Summer Olympics wraps. He has run NBCUniversal since cable giant Comcast closed its acquisition of a majority stake in the entertainment giant from General Electric in 2011 before buying full ownership in 2013.
Burke will retire Aug. 14, but Shell will take over as NBCU CEO effective Jan. 1, reporting to Burke, who will move to the role of chairman, NBCUniversal. Upon Burke’s retirement in the summer, Shell will report directly to Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast.
Shell, 54, has overseen NBC Entertainment, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Telemundo and NBCUniversal International. He was named chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment in 2013 after previously running NBCUniversal International.
Burke was a top executive at Walt Disney, where he ran ABC Broadcasting and helped turn around the company’s European theme parks. He later joined Comcast and quickly became chairman and Roberts’ trusted right-hand man. NBCUniversal has reported growing financials under Burke’s leadership.
NBCUniversal earlier this year said that it would launch a streaming service called Peacock next year.
“Jeff Shell is the ideal executive to take the helm at NBCUniversal,” Roberts said. “He has a stellar track record across both the film and TV side of the business, as well as a wealth of international experience. I have worked closely with Jeff for many years and he is an extraordinary leader who inspires loyalty, delivers strong results and cares deeply about our company, its employees and partners. I could not be more confident in his ability to lead NBCUniversal into the future.”
“I cannot thank Steve enough for the incredible impact he has had on this entire company,” Roberts added. “I will miss Steve’s trusted partnership, and I know I speak for both myself and my late father Ralph when I say that we will be forever grateful to him for shaping first Comcast and then NBCUniversal into the great companies they are today. 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.”
Burke in a statement said that “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.”
Added Shell: “I’m sincerely grateful to Steve, who has been an amazing boss and mentor for the last 15 years and leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of visionary leadership and success. I look forward to building on this strong track record and partnering with the many talented leaders across the company.”