Five days after Comcast's joint venture with NBC Universal was finalized, the newly established NBC Sports Group, under the leadership of chairman Dick Ebersol, has set its executive team in place.
As expected, the new structure elevates Mike McCarley to head the Golf Channel, while Jon Litner, who had been serving as Comcast Sports Group president, has been promoted to president of Versus and SportsNet, comprising 11 regional sports networks around the country. He succeeds Jamie Davis in heading the national cable service.
Cable industry veteran and former Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus has been named president of NBC Sports Cable Group, with oversight for Golf Channel, Versus and the 11 RSNs. Lazarus, who was brought on board in mid-December after then-Comcast COO and now NBCU CEO Steve Burke announced the executive management structure for the JV, reports directly to Ebersol.
"People are the most important part of any organization and the experience, talent and leadership ability of this group is second to none," said Ebersol in announcing the new leadership hierarchy. "As we formed the new NBC Sports Group by combining the storied history and broad reach of NBC Sports with Comcast's 24/7 ability to super-serve the fan, it was imperative to create a leadership team that possessed a wide array of experience and expertise across the business. I could not be happier with this group of collaborative leaders and I feel that our division is well positioned going forward."
Ken Schanzer, a 30-year veteran of NBC Sports, who has been Ebersol's second-in-command for most of the past two decades, continues in his role as president, NBC Sports, adding responsibilities as the lead negotiator for all NBC Sports Group partnership agreements.
Gary Zenkel remains president, NBC Olympics and executive vice president, strategic partnerships, NBC Sports, and will now lead the group's Olympic business across all platforms and continues to have business oversight of all digital business.
Jon Miller, executive vice president, NBC Sports, has been promoted to president of programming for NBC Sports and Versus. Remaining in New York, Miller will continue to report to Schanzer and now to Lazarus for Versus.
Sam Flood, named only the seventh executive producer in NBC Sports history last June, has been promoted to executive producer, NBC Sports and Versus. Flood, who currently produces NBC's NHL coverage and Football Night in America, will continue to report to Ebersol.
NBC Sports sales ad chief Seth Winters will add oversight of those operations on the national and regional cable side as well under the new structure.
McCarley, who had been serving as senior vice president, strategic marketing, promotion and communications, NBC Sports, will now lead the Golf Channel as president. Described by some as Ebersol's protege, McCarley has worked alongside the sports executive for more than a decade and has been his close confidant and advisor on many matters pertaining to the entity in recent years. Continuing to report to Ebersol, McCarley will relocate from New York to Golf's Orlando headquarters.
McCarley succeeds Earl Marshall who had been running Golf since September, when Page Thompson stepped down as the network's president to become vice president of strategic integration, with oversight for identifying synergies between Comcast, NBC, Universal Studios and Parks and the cable channels.
Promoted to Comcast SportsNet president in 2007, Litner, who helped launched SNY in New York, has also been instrumental in the rollouts of CSN Bay Area, CSN New England, CSN Northwest, and NECN. Litner, who has close ties with club owners in New York, Chicago and the Bay Area where Comcast has equity positions in the attendant RSN, has driven the SportsNet operation to record revenue and cash flow in each successive year of his tutelage.
Davis, who had led Versus to ratings, distribution and revenue growth since taking over the network in September 2008, will continue to work with Lazarus on strategy and planning for the NBC Sports Group as he assesses potential roles within Comcast.