He’s just bought a house in Philly and is gearing up to attend Comcast Programming’s 1st upfront next week, but, for the most part, Jeff Shell is keeping a low profile until he starts his gig as programming czar in May. "It’s not fair to have a half-boss," the former Gemstar chief says. "Steve Burke and I agreed that I start when I start, and the networks will continue to operate the way they operate" in the meantime. But he has ideas for the large portfolio of Comcast nets he’ll oversee. Teamwork: "My focus will be on getting networks to operate as a group as opposed to individually," Shell says. "I’ll be looking at things to do from a cost perspective to bolster each other." He’s particularly keen on beefing up cross promotions, crediting Viacom for its work in this area and noting the spots his old employer Fox ran during the Super Bowl promoting Glenn Close on FX’s "The Shield." "The stuff that needs to get done-thinking as a true portfolio instead of a number of different properties-my experience matches that." Does that mean he will centralize affiliate sales and marketing across the nets? "I think a certain amount of centralized functions makes sense, but I’m working in a vacuum," he says, without naming specifics. "I’ve got to go in and figure out [where things stand]." Channel Surfing: One thing you shouldn’t expect Czar Shell do is make content decisions. "Don’t expect me to jump right in and tell [E! chief] Ted Harbert what shows to launch. That’s his forte," he says. "My charge will be to figure out how to make these business operate better individually and collectively." He acknowledges there will be some overlap between him and Amy Banse, recently named svp, marketing & new business. But that’s "part of the excitement…Amy and I have known each other for a long time. That’s absolutely one of the reasons I’m going to Comcast." Present at the Creation: As for new networks, he’s optimistic Comcast will seek opportunities beyond Sony and the upcoming preschool net with PBS. He seems excited when he talks about regional sports nets, also part of his oversight (after all, RSNs were his initial foray into the cable business at Fox). He sees regional sports nets and regional/national sports hybrids as becoming increasingly valuable, and while he doesn’t acknowledge a particular opportunity on the horizon, it sounds like he’ll be looking.

The Daily



HBO renewed “Succession” for a fourth season. The drama’s Season Three premiere on Oct 17 drew more than 1.4 million viewers across all platforms, marking it as the best premiere night of any HBO

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