Three years ago, in the middle of the writers strike, NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker made big headlines with his NATPE keynote speech, in which he declared the broadcast model dead and touted two new NBC initiatives that he thought would revolutionize the TV business: the dismantlement of pilot season, with the network going straight to series on most projects instead, and the elimination of the formal upfront presentation, with NBC brass pitching advertisers at small gatherings instead.
Well, that was then. In one of his final appearances as CEO of NBCU, Zucker today returned to NATPE for a Q&A session conducted by his brother-in-law, Nomura Securities’ Michael Nathanson. Zucker was not asked about the 2008 appearance or the two NBC initiatives, both of which have long been scrapped. But according to news reports from the session, he was asked to comment on the abrupt departure of MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann. Zucker would not comment on Olbermann’s exit but praised him as a main driver of the cable news channel’s success. Zucker called Netflix a replacement for “the back-end syndication model for some shows that had gone away.” He wouldn’t comment on his plans for the future but reiterated his love for producing, news and sports. Zucker’s last day at NBCU is Friday. He said he is looking forward to Monday when he will wake up with nothing to do.