NBCUniversal Merges Domestic and International Operations; Kevin MacLellan to Exit

Bonnie Hammer will now oversee company’s international studio

Last Updated: October 30, 2019 @ 10:14 AM

NBCUniversal is merging its domestic and international divisions, with Kevin MacLellan, chairman of NBCU’s global distribution and international operations, set to exit the company.

Before he ends his nearly two-decade career with the company, MacLellan will work with NBCU film and entertainment chairman Jeff Shell and chairman of NBCU’s international group and Telemundo, Cesar Conde, on a transition plan.

Recently appointed NBCUniversal Content Studios chairman Bonnie Hammer, who was formerly in charge of the company’s forthcoming streaming service Peacock and is now heading up both Universal Television and Universal Content Productions, will oversee the international studio following MacLellan’s exit.

“In light of Kevin’s departure, we have reassessed our international organizational structure,” Shell said in an internal memo announcing the news to staff on Wednesday. “With the rapidly evolving global media landscape, we have decided to more closely align our U.S. and international operations. This will perfectly position us for future growth, as we take advantage of our increased international footprint and the growing number of platforms for our content.”

He added: “Change is never easy, but I’m confident that we have never been better positioned for global growth. The combination of our outstanding international team, with the strength and reach of our new sister company Sky, sets us up for future success in a very competitive marketplace. Thank you for your continued contribution to our business.”

Read Shell’s memo to staff below.

Dear Colleagues,

I am disappointed to share the news that Kevin MacLellan has made the difficult decision to leave the company and is ready to move on to his next challenge. Kevin and I have worked closely together for over 14 years, during which time he has always been a trusted friend and advisor. He and his team have managed over 2,600 employees across 36 different countries, who have all been instrumental in building our domestic and international businesses, driving double-digit growth annually. Kevin’s many accomplishments include advising on the Sky acquisition, securing numerous volume licensing and production deals and launching hayu in 14 different countries. During his tenure, he turned our International Studios business into a world-class home for some of the most preeminent content creators who produced global hits such as Downton AbbeyHanna and The Capture. We are sorry to see him go, but look forward to seeing what his next chapter will be.

Kevin has agreed to work with me and Cesar Conde to ensure a smooth transition, so he will be remaining with us until that process is complete.

In light of Kevin’s departure, we have reassessed our international organizational structure. With the rapidly evolving global media landscape, we have decided to more closely align our U.S. and international operations. This will perfectly position us for future growth, as we take advantage of our increased international footprint and the growing number of platforms for our content.

Following are details on the new structure of our international group:

International Networks 

  • Ken Bettsteller will become President, Global Networks, overseeing all non-Sky Network operations across EMEA, APAC and LatAm, adding Lee Raftery as a direct report, and partnering with Justin Che. Ken will report directly to Cesar Conde, Chairman, NBCUniversal International Group and Telemundo Enterprises. DreamWorks Animation Networks, headed by Jennifer Lawlor, will report to Lee.
  • Duccio Donati, EVP, Lifestyle & Kids Networks, will now report to Frances Berwick, President of the NBCUniversal Lifestyle Networks. Duccio will continue to oversee E! Entertainment Television internationally and will take on oversight of hayu, led by Hendrik McDermott.

International Production

  • International Studios, headed by Jeff Wachtel, will now report to Bonnie Hammer, Chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios and George Cheeks, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios.
  • International Formats group will now report to Meredith Ahr, President, Alternative and Reality Group, NBC Entertainment.

International Leadership and Corporate functions

  • Global Distribution, led by Belinda Menendez, will now report jointly to George Cheeks and Pete Levinsohn, President and Chief Distribution Officer for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
  • Business Development in EMEA will move under Sky, with Ben Braun, SVP, Strategy & Business Development, coordinating Business Development in LatAm and APAC in partnership with Cesar and Justin Che.
  • The leaders of each of the international functions including Finance, Human Resources, Legal, Government Affairs, Corporate Communications, International Media Operations, IT, Facilities, Real Estate and Security will help with the transition and report into the U.S. functional heads of each group. David Gibbons, SVP, International Operations & Technology, will leave his role in 2020 following completion of key integration projects.

Change is never easy, but I’m confident that we have never been better positioned for global growth. The combination of our outstanding international team, with the strength and reach of our new sister company Sky, sets us up for future success in a very competitive marketplace. Thank you for your continued contribution to our business.

Jeff Shell
Chairman, NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment