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NBCUniversal ousts execs at Bravo, Oxygen; shuts down mobile gaming business

Matthew McNulty

NBCUniversal made sweeping changes on Thursday, shuttering its mobile gaming divison, ousting top executives from E!, Bravo and Oxygen and laying off 45 workers at the Lifestyle Networks group.

The moves marked the second big staff shakeup in the past three years.

The cuts are expected to affect less than 5 percent of the company's entertainment and lifestyle group staff, a spokesperson confirmed to Fox Business Network, coming just a month after E! let go of 20-25 staff members in August.

Among those dismissed are Amy Introcaso-Davis, executive vice president of development and production at E!, as well as Jerry Leo, who oversaw program strategy at Oxygen and Bravo.

Frances Berwick, president of Lifestyle Networks, has looked to consolidate the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Lifestyle Network group in an effort to better position the unit to compete against Netflix and Hulu TV in the streaming industry next year.

Both Leo and Introcaso-Davis' roles have been eliminated completely, with Rachel Smith, current senior vice president of development at Bravo, being promoted to executive vice president at E! and Val Boreland taking over Leo’s position.

Meanwhile, Rod Aissa, who currently serves as executive vice president of programming and development at Oxygen, will be joining Smith in the reshuffle as he takes over production duties at E!

The layoffs come just days after E! president Adam Stotsky stepped down after five years with the company and 18 years overall at the parent company, NBCUniversal.

While Stotsky will not be replaced, Berwick will assume his responsibilities as the network continues to reorganize throughout September.

E! vice president of unscripted development Betsy Slenzak is moving to Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, but will essentially maintain the same role. Slenzak will be working directly under Bill McGoldrick, who recently began heading Peacock after overseeing programming for NBCUniversal cable brands Syfy and USA Network since last year.

In an earlier restructuring, former network chief Bonnie Hammer consolidated NBCUniversal's cable brands under Chris McCumber in Feb. 2016, which merged his duties at USA Network with Syfy. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal also shuttered its Universal Games and Digital Platforms division on Thursday as a part of the overall restructuring, ending its two-year run in the mobile games market. The division released several mobile games based on company-owned franchises, including Minions, Jurassic World and How to Train Your Dragon.

"Given the realities of the increasingly competitive nature of the mobile games landscape, Universal Brand Development is shifting its investment and approach in games to opportunities that don’t require mobile self-publishing," an NBCUniversal spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "This will allow UBD to deepen their licensing and partnership opportunities across all gaming platforms."

Berwick outlined the Lifestyle Group shakeup in a memo sent to staff on Thursday and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

"I’m confident that this new structure, which creates multi-brand roles, will allow us to continue to grow the business and optimize our internal talent," she wrote. "I realize that this is major change for us, but I believe this leadership team and new structure, along with the talented employees working across all these brands, will drive our continued success

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