NBC Universal digital-ad-sales chief Beth Comstock is returning to a senior marketing role at parent company General Electric three years after leaving for NBCU.
The media company will funnel her duties out to existing senior executives in the wake of her departure, which puts her back at GE as senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
Comstock’s departure, long rumored in the press, brings her back to GE, where she served as the company’s first CMO. After an initial stint in communications at NBCU, she left for GE in 2003 and then moved to NBCU, serving as president of integrated media, in 2005 after NBC’s 2004 merger with Universal Studios.
Among other things, Comstock initially oversaw NBCU’s purchase of iVillage, which has proved slow to yield returns and faced criticism from top NBCU brass. Other publications have for months cited this as a reason for her departure being imminent, although NBCU always denied that this was the case.
She will now again report to GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt on areas including sales, marketing and “cross-business digital efforts,” according to NBCU.
"I want to thank Beth for her enormous contributions to the company over the last two-plus years,” NBCU chairman Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “She has a deep understanding of the opportunities presented by the digital revolution and was incredibly effective in guiding us through a huge shift in our company's mindset. Her efforts have begun to deliver real financial results and have set the stage for robust future growth. In her new role, all of GE's businesses, including NBCU, will be able to reap the benefits of her expertise."
NBCU funneled Comstock’s duties out to top executives in its digital, sales and research divisions.
Salil Mehta, president of business operations, strategy and development, will assume oversight of NBCU’s digital-media team.
Mike Pilot, president of sales and marketing, adds oversight of the company’s research department.
Jeff Gaspin, president and chief operating officer of Universal Television Group, will become interim head of iVillage and oversee what NBCU is continuing to call a virtual women’s network, which encompasses the Web site and cable networks Bravo and Oxygen.
Zucker and Gaspin talked of the virtual women’s network when NBCU bought Oxygen for some $900 million late last year, saying that by adding the young-skewing female network to its existing assets, such as Today and Bravo, NBCU could offer advertisers properties targeting any cross-section of female viewers they desired.