March 26, 2020
NBCUniversal has created a $150 million fund for employees, production personnel and amusement staff impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement by CEO Jeff Shell included his admission to being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Shell wrote in a staff memo. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in L.A. and am improving every day.”
Shell, who assumed the senior executive position following the retirement of Steve Burke, paid tribute to Larry Edgeworth, an audio technician at NBC News, who passed away due to complications from the virus.
“Our hearts go out to his family, friends and co-workers,” Shell wrote.
The news comes as NBCUniversal’s marquee primetime event, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, have been postponed to 2021, resulting in a $1.2 billion ad-revenue hit. The company’s Peacock subscription service remains on schedule to launch in April.
With the delays and postponements, 2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for NBCUniversal, which is opening a new theme park in Beijing, followed by the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics, the Super Bowl and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“We will have the return of our tentpole films like F9 and Minions: The Rise Of Gru, and an avalanche of new TV shows,” Shell wrote. “The present may be challenging, but it is impossible not to feel optimistic about the future.”