WWE lost a major ally at NBCUniversal this week as Chris McCumber left the company after 19 years.
Deadline reports that McCumber, who worked as the President of SyFy and the USA Network, notified his team inn an internal memo on Wednesday. His departure comes after a major restructuring at NBCU, under Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.
McCumber is considered to be the person who spearheaded the negotiations between NBCU and WWE, which led to their current big-money TV deal. It was noted by Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio that McCumber has been somewhat of a liaison between USA and WWE for several years now.
Meltzer noted that McCumber’s departure likely will not bring any major changes to WWE, as his replacement likely will not want to get rid of pro wrestling. USA is seen as the wrestling channel to some people as they currently have 5 hours of WWE programming each week, and it would take a major directive change for the network to drop WWE. The departure likely won’t mean anything significant for WWE as it would take something like a major drop in ratings for the network to consider such a move, and that won’t happen anytime soon as WWE is still way above the station average.
With that said, it was noted by Meltzer that McCumber knew WWE and was into it, enough to be mad at certain things that went on with the product.
McCumber joined USA in 2001 and worked in his last lead role since 2011. He was named the President of Entertainment Networks, USA and Syfy, in 2016. USA was the #1 entertainment cable network for 14 years, the longest streak in TV history, under his leadership. McCumber oversaw some of the most profitable years in both USA and Syfy’s history even after linear ratings began to drop. Deadline also pointed to how McCumber was the point person overseeing USA’s long, successful partnership with WWE. McCumber is the one who developed USA’s signature brand campaign “Characters Welcome” and re-branded Syfy in 2017.
McCumber was well-liked internally and in the creative community, according to Deadline. NBCU leadership had looked for a new role for McCumber, but he felt like it was time to leave.