NBC announced Thursday that Entertainment President Kevin Reilly signed a new multi-year deal to remain in his job, as has been expected since early this year.
And Reilly, who has stemmed the network’s primetime ratings plunge and given NBC some newfound momentum despite massive cuts at NBC Universal and constant rumors about his job security, says he is just happy to have all the questions about his future behind him.
“A lot of that stuff just goes with the gig in good times and especially in bad times,” he says. “It stopped bothering me personally, but it messes with the organization; people get insecure.”
Reilly says despite recent rumors that he may have been looking elsewhere, his first choice was always to remain with NBC.
“I believe there were other options,” he acknowledges. “It hasn’t been an easy couple of years. But I really wanted to finish what I started.”
Since joining NBC from FX in 2004, Reilly survived the brutal post-Friends years and has begun to re-establish NBC’s reputation – and ratings – with Nielsen hits like Heroes and Deal or No Deal and high-quality critical darlings like The Office, Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock.
But Reilly knows with plenty of holes in his schedule as with all of the networks these days, and with expensive failures like this year’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC still has to find more assets. That said, he thinks the task is more manageable now.
“I don’t feel like I am running into gale-force winds,” he says. “We have a lot of work left ahead of us, but it all seems possible now.”
And Reilly says that, despite the questions about his future both inside and outside his building, he never felt like he had to play it safe – as evidenced by his willingness to champion lower-rated fare he believes in, like the afore-mentioned The Office, Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock.
“People would tell you to follow your instincts, but that can be very hard to do when you’re under fire,” he says. “But I’ve been doing it now for a couple seasons and frankly had the support above me to do it. No one said, ‘If you pick up the back nine on 30 Rock you’re in trouble.’ Clearly, because they renewed my deal.”