The news ends the former Syfy chief's nearly 20 years at the company.
Dave Howe's nearly two-decade tenure at NBCUniversal is coming to an end.
The news comes nearly four years after Howe moved from his perch atop Syfy to a more strategic role under longtime boss Bonnie Hammer. At the time, the 2014 move was described as a way to pull Howe out of the programming weeds, looking instead at new technologies and exploring and experimenting with ernative models. More recently, Howe has had direct executive oversight over digital business Bluprint, a hobbyist learning side and key part of NBCU's direct to consumer digital enterprises division.
“Dave has been a wonderful colleague for almost 20 years. His ability to think big picture and navigate a complex media landscape, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit have helped propel our businesses forward,” noted Hammer, adding: “We've all been enriched by his leadership, business savvy and friendship, and we wish him all good things.”
Howe joined Syfy in 2001, initially as head of marketing and later as general manager of the network. By 2008, he had added a president title, and a year later expanded to include horror network Chiller. Under his watch, Syfy grew to be a more global and highly lucrative entity within the larger NBCU cable portfolio, with distribution in 87 countries thanks to programs from Battlestar Galactica to Tin Man, The Magicians and event Sharknado.
Prior to NBCU, Howe spent 15 years at the BBC in London. Below is his Dec. 10 note to the staff.
Dear Colleagues at Bluprint and across NBCU,
I wanted to share with you that after 18 incredible years, I will be leaving NBCUniversal. These last two decades have been some of the most fulfilling and rewarding of my career.
I've been fortunate to have had two very different chapters in my time at the company. The first with SYFY, alongside an extraordinary team who dared to think differently. Our achievements helped transform SYFY into the ultimate destination for smart, award-winning science fiction content. Together, we launched groundbreaking series like Battlestar Galactica, The Magicians and the Expanse, as well as unforgettable social media sensations like Sharknado! It was an amazing ride!
And then for the last 3 years, in a pioneering new role designed to bridge our traditional linear businesses with the digital, direct-to-consumer world. We invested and partnered with several fast-growing digital businesses from podcasting and fan fiction to interior design, beauty and virtual reality. The highlight was acquiring Bluprint, an innovative lifestyle content and commerce platform for makers. It's been a terrific experience working with the Bluprint team to help transform the business in partnership with almost every area of NBCUniversal.
Each of you have helped me elevate my game and I will always admire your passion and dedication to excellence. I will work closely with Maggie and John to ensure a smooth transition. It's been a great privilege to work at NBCUniversal.
On news broadcasts and cable news channels, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more programming. On the entertainment front, late night shows as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
NBCUniversal will reduce advertising loads across its networks and add more entertainment and news content as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, and as families quarantine at home.
“Now, people all across America are turning to us more for the content that comforts them and connects them to the outside world,” writes NBCUniversal ad sales and partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino in a blog post Monday afternoon. “At the same time, some marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they're looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we're seeing and hearing, we want to do what's right for our audiences and marketers.”
On the broadcast news shows and the company's cable news channels MSNBC and CNBC, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more news and information programming.
On the entertainment front, late night shows The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen now originating from the hosts' homes, as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.
Some of the company's channels will also launch family movie nights, with sponsored but commercial-free airings of films.
Late last month the advertising research firm Magna Global predicted that the U.S. TV ad market would fall by 13 percent in 2020 due to the fallout from the pandemic, calling the situation “totally unprecedented.” The travel, restaurant and movie sectors in particular have pulled back ad spend.
In addition, NBCUniversal finds itself in the position of having to fill many hours of programming that had been set aside for coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.
Yaccarino also writes that the company will be engaging in outreach to companies and waiving fees “to allow companies to reach their customers directly in their homes and generate much-needed sales.” That will include access to remote production teams, brand assets, talent, translation services, and editing services, which can all be used to create new campaigns even as most people are staying home.
The company also released new research on Monday outlining the increased media consumption during the last few weeks. The research found that digital and linear TV viewing is up, gaming is up significantly, and that streaming services are seeing subscription gains, while...