Rethinking Jeff Zucker's NBC Reign

When General Electric soon sells NBC-Universal to Comcast, the network’s oft-ridiculed head, Jeff Zucker, will survive the transition. How is this the case, given NBC’s ratings struggles? Forget about Jay Leno. The New York Times points to Zucker’s good work with the company’s cable networks: Under him, USA Network became a powerhouse, Bravo and Syfy emerged with distinct identities, and MSNBC became the liberal alternative to Fox News. The cable channels are expected to produce more than $2.3 billion in operating profit in 2009, and they are what made the deal attractive to Comcast. Still, Zucker may not last long. “It’s almost unfathomable that the day after the approval Comcast won’t make a change and Jeff will be out,” says one longtime senior Hollywood executive.