When NBC News Group Chairman Cesar Conde talks about the future of his business, he invariably comes back to the word omnichannel, the sort of corporate jargon that distinguishes him, a Harvard-and-Wharton-trained operator, from his predecessors, like Steve Capus and Neal Shapiro and Andy Lack, all of whom identified as journalists or at least media executives with journalistic chops. Conde, for his part, leans into his McKinsey pedigree: he sits on blue chip corporate boards (Walmart, Pepsi, etcetera), talks like a C.E.O., and seems to view himself as an executive in charge during transformational times, when big decisions need to be made.
Conde’s views on that future also reflect certain undeniable secular trends—the inexorable decline of linear television, the rise of digital subscription businesses, the leveraging of brand loyalty—among others. In private conversation, Conde can humbly acknowledge that NBC News, despite its history and massive infrastructure, isn’t immune to these changes. In fact, those attributes make it vulnerable.
In his view, sources who have spoken with him say, NBC News’s future is not built around a core television network—a dying though still lucrative asset. It is, instead, a constellation of brands like Today and Dateline and NBC Nightly News that exist across various linear and digital platforms, with myriad revenue streams, all of which can be judged by their own P&L and require different strategies. In this worldview, NBC News is less of an operating business and masterbrand than a holding company for its consumer-facing properties—a multimedia Conde Nast or LVMH or MacAndrews & Forbes. “Cesar isn’t thinking about one coherent editorial strategy,” one high-level NBC News executive told me. “He’s thinking about systems, about outcomes.”