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USA, Syfy Head McCumber Leaving NBCU After 20 Years

Chris McCumber
Chris McCumber (Image credit: NBCU)

Chris McCumber, who has overseen NBCUniversal cable networks USA and Syfy, said he has decided to leave the company after nearly 20 years. 

The move by McCumber, whose title is president, entertainment networks, comes after a reorganization led by new NBCU CEO Jeff Shell that consolidates the company’s broadcast, cable and streaming assets. 

As part of that reorg, Frances Berwick was named head of NBCU’s entertainment business overseeing the company’s networks, reporting into Mark Lazarus, who was named chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming earlier this year.

In an email to colleagues and friends announcing his plans to depart--following a period of transition--McCumber essentially endorsed the new structure.

“After nearly 20 years at this tremendous company, this has not been an easy decision. Yet I believe wholeheartedly that NBCUniversal is taking the right steps by creating a new organization built for the future,” he said. “I know that change is not always easy, but I believe that periods of disruption always open new doors. I encourage you all to seize every opportunity that comes your way. You’ve got a front row seat to the evolution of the television business… what a gift!”

McCumber joined USA Network in 2001 as senior VP, on-air promotion, and has been its top exec since 2011. USA has been the top rated entertainment network for 14 years and under McCumber greenlit, developed and launched series including Suits, Mr. Robot, Psych and Monk.

He added oversight for NBCU’s Syfy network in 2016. 

Before joining USA, McCumber was creative director for the media and entertainment practice at Lee Hunt Associates and Razorfish. He began his career at MTV Networks as associate producer, before joining the on-air promotion team that launched Comedy Central. 

An accomplished commercial film director, he helmed 14 short films for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, titled Fuzzy Memories by Jack Handy.

Here is the email from McCumber:

Friends and Colleagues –

I’ve always promised to be open and transparent – and it is in that spirit that I wanted you to be the first to hear that I have decided to leave NBCUniversal, following a period of transition.

After nearly 20 years at this tremendous company, this has not been an easy decision. Yet I believe wholeheartedly that NBCUniversal is taking the right steps by creating a new organization built for the future.

It’s difficult to encapsulate two decades into one note. Together as a team, we helped make USA Network the #1 cable entertainment network for a record 14 years, rebooted SYFY with a fan-first perspective, won a slew of awards, and created some of television’s most popular programs of all time. But beyond all the successes and accolades, what I’ll remember most is the special bond that we had as a team. A bond built on trust, mutual respect, and of course, having a lot of fun making great content.

I know that change is not always easy, but I believe that periods of disruption always open new doors. I encourage you all to seize every opportunity that comes your way. You’ve got a front row seat to the evolution of the television business… what a gift!

I’m forever grateful and proud to have had the privilege of working alongside each and every one of you, and to call you my teammates and friends.

Thank you for the honor –

Chris