Hulu backer/Apple antagonist Zucker leaving NBC

NBC Universal CEO will depart as soon as Comcast takes control next year. He helped build Hulu and coined term about trading analog dollars for digital pennies.

Jeff Zucker, chief of NBC Universal and the man who helped start video portal Hulu, will leave the company once Comcast's pending acquisition of NBC Universal receives government approval, according a company internal document obtained by CNET.

Outgoing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker will leave once Comcast takes control of the company. Ina Fried/CNET

Zucker's departure is worth noting because of his often hard-line stand towards negotiations with technology companies, most notably Apple. On Thursday, at the Goldman Sachs investor conference, Zucker was skeptical of whether Apple's plan to offer 99-cent video rentals on TV shows was right for his company.

"We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content," Zucker said according to Reuters. "We thought it would devalue our content."

Zucker is probably best known for a comment that offended some in the technology sector when he warned media companies not to "end up trading analog dollars for digital pennies."

When he gave that quote, Zucker was already a veteran of brutal negotiations with Apple. Zucker is the man who, as my colleague Tom Krazit pointed out in 2007, had the "stones" to demand that Apple give NBC Universal a share of iPod sales during negotiations over iTunes licensing of NBC's shows.

The CEO can also be credited with helping to make a major bet when NBC Universal teamed with News Corp. to develop Hulu, one of the Web's most successful video services.

At the time, YouTube was the unchallenged leader in online video. Since then, Hulu has separated itself from YouTube by offering newly released TV shows.

In an e-mail to employees, Zucker said he will stay on until the acquisition is final and estimated that to be about six months away.

 

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