Wurtzel Stepping Down as NBCU Research Chief

Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBCUniversal, is stepping down into a senior advisory role.

Some of Wurtzel’s entertainment research staff will report to Jeff Bader, president of program planning, strategy and research at NBC Entertainment. His program and ad standards teams will report to Mark Lazarus, who heads NBC’s broadcast and sports group.

Wurztel is a TV research pioneer who joined NBC 17 years ago and has spent 40 years in the broadcast business.

Below is an internal note from Bader about Wurtzel’s new position.

After 17 years at NBCU, our friend and colleague Alan Wurtzel is transitioning from his post as President of Research & Media Development into a senior advisory role.  In the research world, Alan is an institution and we are fortunate that he will still be available to us for a variety of projects.  Moving forward, all of Alan’s current research direct reports will now report to my group which will be overseeing the research functions for all entertainment programming at NBC network and the Universal Television studios (as previously announced, his program and ad standards teams will report into Mark Lazarus’ Broadcast & Sports Organization).

In his more than 40 years in television, Alan has pioneered research and measurement initiatives that have not only changed our company, but have also had a large impact on the industry as a whole.   In 2009 – years before many of our colleagues recognized the impact of streaming on our business – Alan spearheaded the creation of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), a group of leading content providers, agencies and advertisers who joined forces to help promote research innovation and explore new ways to measure audiences across traditional and new media.

Alan developed the Total Audience Measurement Index or TAMi, which was a first-of-its-kind method designed to measure the total exposure to any one program across multiple media platforms – basically the exact type of information we’re all looking for in our ever-evolving world.  And by analyzing how we could best take advantage of the unique scope of the Olympics to gain unprecedented insight into consumer behavior, Alan’s “Billion Dollar Lab” research presentation around the Beijing, Vancouver, London and Sochi Games defined an opportunity for NBCU that continues to benefit every aspect of our company.

Last year Alan completed the development and construction of the NBCU Media Research Lab—a world class research facility located in the Orlando theme park—which enables all of the NBCU and COMCAST businesses the capability to conduct state-of-the-art consumer and media research.

On a personal note, Alan gave me my start in network television in 1988 when he hired me as a research analyst at ABC.  For that, I will always be indebted to him and it is an honor to be taking over the department that he built.  We will do our best to make this a seamless transition, which I’m confident we can accomplish due to the incredible individuals who make up this team.  It’s not an exaggeration when I say that we have one of the best research departments in the business, and I am eager to continue working with all of you.

I know that I am not alone in saying that I would not be where I am today were it not for Alan, and I think it’s safe to say that NBCU would not be the thought-leader in research that we are today were it not for him.  Please join me in thanking Alan for his tremendous contribution to both our company and the industry, and I look forward to this exciting new chapter for all of us.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.