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Shake-up at NBC Digital; Vivi Zigler departs

June 06, 2012|By Meg James
  • Robert Hayes was named executive vice president, digital media for NBC Entertainment. He becomes the eighth former Showtime executive to follow Robert Greenblatt to the network.
Robert Hayes was named executive vice president, digital media for NBC… (Chris Haston / NBC )

NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt, continuing to build his management team, has brought in another former Showtime executive to run the network's digital media group.

Robert Hayes has joined NBC as executive vice president for digital media. He will be responsible for several initiatives and properties, including NBC.com, social media campaigns, mobile applications, digital marketing and multi-platform programming.

As part of the move, the digital unit now will be part of Greenblatt's operation rather than part of the portfolio of Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting. Hayes will report to Len Fogge, NBC's marketing and digital chief, another prominent executive whom Greenblatt recruited from his old haunt, Showtime.

Vivi Zigler, who has been in charge of NBC's digital presence for six years, is leaving the network at the end of June. The well-regarded marketing executive has been with NBC for nearly 19 years. Before taking over the network's new media initiatives, Zigler was head of current programming, serving as the network's chief liaison with prime-time show producers.

"The company has been great to me," Zigler said in a brief interview.  "We've been talking about my departure for several months, or different roles for me in the company, but I really want to try something new and different.  It's time."

NBC said the moves were made to better align the company's digital assets with the entertainment group.  For nearly 18 months, Zigler and her unit seemed to operate in the shadows -- not part of Harbert's advertising sales force or TV station operations and not within Greenblatt's sphere of influence.

"It's critical that we do everything possible to light up digital media in order to help rebuild the prime-time schedule," Greenblatt said in a statement.  "There's no one better to lead this effort than Rob Hayes. I saw the effect he had at Showtime firsthand."

While at Showtime, Hayes oversaw the premium cable channel's digital campaigns for such shows as "Dexter," "Weeds," "Nurse Jackie" and "The Tudors."  He also helped shape Showtime's business strategy, working on content deals with iTunes, Amazon.com and Netflix.

Hayes, who most recently served as chief operating officer of Iconic Entertainment, becomes the eighth former Showtime executive to follow Greenblatt to NBC. In addition to Fogge, Greenblatt brought his chief communications officer, Richard Licata, and Beth Klein, senior vice president for casting at Universal Television.

The shift in emphasis for the digital operation is noteworthy. The previous administration, under General Electric Co., viewed Zigler's unit as a potential revenue engine, encouraging it to create content and work with advertisers to showcase their products. 

By folding the unit into the marketing division, it appears that NBC, now controlled by cable giant Comcast Corp., sees digital primarily as a promotional arm. 

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