Former Warner Bros. TV Exec Susan Rovner Joins NBCU as Entertainment Programming Chief

Former Warner Bros. TV president Susan Rovner, who left the company Oct. 2, is heading to NBCUniversal to head up entertainment content for all platforms, the company said today. Her title is chairman, entertainment content of NBCUniversal television and streaming.  

Rovner, who spent more than two decades at Warner Bros., will oversee programming for the entire NBCU portfolio, which includes broadcast network NBC, basic cable networks USA, Bravo, E!, Syfy, Oxygen and new streaming service Peacock. Her entertainment programming division consists of separate content groups for scripted, unscripted, late-night and alternative programming.

“Susan is the bold creative force we need as we rethink the future of our business,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCU television and streaming, in a statement.  “Throughout this process I have been consistently impressed by her strong perspective, track record of success and passion for content. Susan joins a great team that is poised to begin a new era at NBCU.”

Even though news broke of Rovner’s new role in early September, and she announced her exit to Warner Bros. staff soon after, explaining in a memo that she was going “to start a new chapter in my career,” NBCUniversal had declined to confirm she would be joining the company until today.

“NBCU has a deep-rooted tradition of having the best programming from visionary creators, and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to join this incredible organization as it builds on that legacy to head into the future,” said Rovner in a statement.

Nearly two months ago (Aug. 6), new NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell unveiled a major TV and streaming reorganization he had first teased during Comcast’s July earnings call. The new structure created three horizontally integrated units, all of which will report to Mark Lazarus, who was promoted in May as part of an earlier NBCU reorganization.

At the time, Peacock chairman Matt Strauss had been tapped to head up the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) unit. Frances Berwick—who previously ran NBCU’s Lifestyle Networks—was promoted to head up the Entertainment Business unit and tasked with creating the programming strategy and content spend across the TV entertainment brands.

But the third unit, Entertainment Programming, did not yet have a leader. The company initially looked to bring in an external hire, which ended up being Rovner.

Rovner joined Warner Bros. in 1998 and helped develop shows like Gossip Girl, The O.C. and Supernatural before being promoted to co-president of Warner Horizon Scripted in 2014. She was promoted to co-president of Warner Bros. TV last year alongside Brett Paul and given day-to-day oversight of the studio.

Prior to her exit, Rovner was seen as the likely successor to Peter Roth, president and chief content officer for Warner Bros. Television Group, whose contract is up next year.

NBCUniversal’s reorganization has already resulted in the departure of two NBCU network chiefs: NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy, who left in August, and USA Network/Syfy president Chris McCumber, who exited in mid-September.

In another high-profile exit not connected to the overhaul, NBCU vice chairman Ron Meyer resigned in August after revealing that he had been involved in an affair that led to an extortion attempt.

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