NBC Sports Chief Pete Bevacqua to Exit

NBC Sports chief Pete Bevacqua is leaving NBCUniversal to take on a new role as the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame, marking the second exit of a major executive from the Comcast-owned media giant since the ouster of former CEO Jeff Shell.

Bevacqua, who has played a large hand in steering NBCU’s sports efforts into digital arenas, will stay until the end of June, staffers were told in a memo Thursday. Executives at NBC Sports are expected to report to Mark Lazarus, the NBCU executive who once ran NBC Sports and currently oversees all of the company’s TV and streaming operations.

“Anyone who knows Pete will tell you that other than his family, Notre Dame is his next greatest love, and now he has been given the opportunity to have a huge impact on their storied sports programs and the institution in general,” Lazarus said in a statement. He characterized the opportunity as a “dream job” for Bevacqua.

In an interview, Lazarus said he had no timeline for finding a new executive to head NBC Sports or to restructure its current suite of executives. He noted that many of the people working there reported to him when he ran NBC Sports between 2011 and 2018.

“I don’t feel the need to rush into anything,” said Lazarus. “We have a strong rights portfolio that is secure for the long term. We have a great relationship with the sports leagues.”

Bevacqua leaves as NBCU is trying to move more of its sports portfolio into the digital realm. While NBC is known for its “Sunday Night Football” telecasts, it also holds rights to Nascar racing and Premiere League soccer, not to mention its multi-billion-dollar commitment to U.S. rights for the Olympics. In recent months, NBCU has lined up rights to stream Major League Baseball games on Peacock on late Sunday mornings. NBCU in 2021 shut down its NBCSN sports-focused cable network, hoping to push audiences to bigger properties like USA in a bid to boost the economics of that general-entertainment cable outlet at a time when new streaming-video hubs are luring bigger audiences.

His departure follows that of Linda Yaccarino, the former NBCU ad-sales chief who left in May to take on the CEO role at social-media outlet Twitter. Lazarus was also named to oversee ad sales, with Mark Marshall, an NBCU sales veteran, taking oversight of day to day activities.

Bevacqua initially joined NBC Sports as president in 2018 —  the first time the unit had an executive in that role since the unit was reorganized in 2011 in the wake of Comcast taking control of NBCU. The executive had served as CEO of the PGA,which supervises the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup and serves more than 29,000 members,, since 2012. Prior to his PGA role, Bevacqua served as the global head of golf at Creative Artists Agency. He was named chairman of NBC Sports in 2020, after expanding NBC’s portfolio of golf rights; charting a move more directly into sports betting; and positioning NBC Sports for a consumer base increasingly focused on streaming video on demand.

NBC Sports is engaged in a number of projects. Its rights deal with Nascar is slated to lapse next year, and there is likely a sense that the racing league will seek to monetize more of its events in digital fashion. A deal with the WWE that puts “Monday Night Raw” on USA also expires in 2024. The professional-wrestling company will soon be part of broader, publicly-traded unit controlled by Endeavor. NBC Sports is also engaged in launching next year’s Paris Olympics and a new slate of Saturday-night college football games from Big Ten.

There will also be the question of Notre Dame rights, which NBCU has had since 1990. Bevacqua could play a big role in determining if the company gets to keep them in the future.

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