NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell has resigned from his position after confessing to “an inappropriate relationship” with a woman at the media giant, according to parent company Comcast.
The revelation came to light during an investigation by an external counsel in response to a complaint against Shell.
“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal,” Shell said in a statement Sunday. “I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.”
“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down,” the statement said. “They are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 10 years has been a privilege.”
Shell, who has been with the company for twenty years and is married, had been in charge of the entertainment division, which includes the struggling Peacock streaming service that has been facing fierce competition from rivals, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Despite adding over 20 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter, Peacock still incurred losses of nearly $1 billion.
Details of Shell’s relationship with the staff member and her role within the company have not been disclosed by Comcast. A replacement for Shell has not been announced yet. In the interim, Mike Cavanagh, Comcast’s president, will assume Shell’s responsibilities, with Mark Lazarus, head of NBCUniversal’s TV and streaming, and Donna Langley, theatrical operations chief, reporting directly to Cavanagh during the transition period.
The news of NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell’s departure sent shockwaves through New York and Hollywood, where he had overseen Comcast’s vast entertainment empire. Shell’s exit comes at a crucial juncture for Comcast as it navigates the challenging transition from traditional TV and cable to a future centered around streaming video, broadband internet, and wireless services.
NBC Universal’s streaming service, Peacock, has gained some momentum in recent months but remains considerably smaller compared to its competitors. With just over 20 million paid subscribers, Peacock lags behind streaming giants like Netflix with 232 million subscribers and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max and Discovery+ with 96 million subscribers.
Similar to other major media companies’ streaming businesses, Peacock has also been incurring losses, with an estimated loss of around $2.5 billion in 2022 and projected losses of another $3 billion in 2023.
In addition to Peacock, NBCUniversal also owns various cable networks, including Bravo, E!, MSNBC, and USA, which have been grappling with declining traditional TV viewership.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.