NBC Universal has a new chief and the new chief “wants to shake up the entertainment giant as quickly as possible, throwing out ole conventions. The pandemic is giving him license to do it.”
So writes Joe Flint and Erich Schwartzel in the Wall Street Journal.
Now, NBCUniversal is a part of the Comcast Corp. CIA (NASDAQ: CMCSA) conglomerate and so we see it acting independently of others within the community. The company is acting independently of the others under the umbrellas.
The important thing here is that NBCUniversal is another example of another organization attempting to re-invent itself in the face of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the United States and the world.
Re-inventing The World
This is what happens during periods of crisis like the one we are going through.
Since this is such an important part of the transformation taking place in the world right now, I have been trying to highlight others that are responding to the disequilibrium in the world by trying to move onto a new way of doing business.
In that article, I wrote
BP has a new leader, Bernard Looney. Mr. Looney is moving quickly, as a new leader should, to make major changes in the direction of his company while he has a chance.”
Yes, BP has a debt problem as well and will have to deal with that. But, Mr. Looney also perceives that the world of energy is changing and so is making big changes right up front to position BP for the future.”
In effect, BP is now in the process of reinventing itself, and this is crucial to understand. Mr. Looney and BP would not have moved this fast if it had not been for the coronavirus pandemic.”
NBCUniversal To Re-Invent Itself
And, so at NBCUniversal we get a new chief, Jeff Shell, who has been with the company, but just took on his current position in January. He now has responsibility for Comast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, and oversees the NBC network, news division, cable channels from Bravo to USA and the Universal studio and its theme parks.
The biggest initial problem is the fact that the company had to close its theme parks and halt production in Hollywood. These disruptions have given Mr. Shell the impetus to make changes he believed were “long overdue.”
First of all, Mr. Shell wants too get movies onto digital platforms as fast as possible. Secondly, Mr. Shell wants to restructure the “aging” broadcast and cable networks to a streaming-video service.
Consumers have changed the way they consume entertainment and the news.
And, NBCUniversal is facing real pressure to change because tow of its major competitors, Walt Disney Co. and ViacomCBS Inc. have new leaders and they are using the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for their need to re-invent themselves.
So, the pressure is on to accelerate the move into the future.
Over the past few years, I have written a lot about the “new” Modern Corporation. These “new” Modern Corporations are built on a foundation of intellectual capital, and are constructed around platforms of networked content. They are very scalable, since these platforms and networks are composed of “information” and thus can expand at zero or near-zero marginal cost.
The “output” of NBCUniversal is “information” and so easily qualifies to fit into the framework of the “new” Modern Corporation. Like most other “Legacy” companies, it has stuck to its historical frame and run its separate divisions as independent units that drew very little from one-another.
What NBCUniversial appears to be doing is consolidating much of its efforts and assigning them to platforms that can be network sources for its customers. In terms of the movie business, Mr. Shell “sees little difference between a $5 million horror movie and a $10 million TV episode.”
In terms of TV operations, Mr. Shell “doesn’t see a point in continuing to run the company’s many cable TV brans as distinct units.” He plans “to centralize programming into a single hub that would determine which shows are best for various NBCUniversal platforms,” and then plans to “be more aggressive in direct-to-consumer streaming.”
Can He Do It?
Mr. Shell does not have a technical background but, since joining Comcast in 2005, has been in charge of almost every major operation of the division, except that relating to the theme parks.
He is know as “Shooter” because he is constantly coming up with new ideas. He is known for his desire to basically change everything he sees.
This may be a good mindset to “shake things up” using the pandemic as an excuse, but the remaining question has to do with whether or not he can build a coherent structure for NBCUniversal that moves them into the future, closer to becoming a “new” Modern Corporation that is fully competitive in the world we are moving into.
He has been successful up to now, given his leadership skills. But, this is a new test.
So, here we have one more picture of how we are accelerating into the future.
The world has been disrupted and is in disequilibrium. Leaders have to make changes to bring us into that future. And, leaders have to make substantial structural changes to meet the needs and competition that will be a part of the new era. It is exciting to watch these things take place as they happen. It is especially important for investors to observe these things and build them into their perception of what works and what doesn’t work/.
Mr. Shell has the opportunity to take a “legacy” company and make it into a “new” Modern Corporation. Does he have what it takes?
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.