Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer, NBCUniversal during the 2016 NBCUniversal Upfronts
Peter Kramer | NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke plans to pursue personal interests rather than taking a job at a rival large media company when he steps down from his chairman position at NBC in August, according to people familiar with the matter.
Burke, 61, may acquire small businesses or start a venture capital fund while spending more time with his family in Montana, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions have been private. He isn’t interested in doing anything related to media, even with Disney CEO Bob Iger planning to retire in 2021, the people said. Burke’s father, Daniel Burke, owned the Portland Sea Dogs, a double-A minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, after retiring from Capital Cities/ABC in 1994.
“While this has been a dream job, it has always been my plan to hand off the baton at the right moment and move on to the next chapter of my life where I can pursue a different set of interests,” Burke said in a statement today.
Burke had considered retiring about five years ago but stayed as NBCUniversal’s owner, Comcast, acquired Dreamworks Animation and then pursued 21st Century Fox last year, one of the people said. He will run NBC’s presentation of its new streaming Peacock platform on Jan. 16 and then begin handing over all responsibilities to new CEO Jeff Shell, the person said.
Shell will officially take over as CEO on Jan. 1. Burke will stay on as chairman until August.
Burke and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts have eyed Shell to take over as NBC’s CEO for years, the people said. Shell has systematically moved through internal jobs at Comcast and NBC for the past 15 years, including chairman of NBCUniversal International and president of Comcast Programming Group, where he was responsible for managing Comcast’s national and regional TV networks. Most recently, Shell has led NBCUniversal’s Film and Entertainment division.
Burke joined Comcast in 1998 and spent 12 years at Disney before that, starting as head of Disney Stores at age 29.
An NBC spokesman declined to comment beyond today’s statement.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, is the parent company of CNBC.