NBC Universal has promoted Suzanne Kolb from president for marketing, news and online at E! and Style to president of E! Entertainment.
She assumes duties that had been handled by Ted Harbert when he was president-CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group; he was named chairman of NBC Entertainment in January after Comcast acquired control of NBC Universal.
Her appointment has been expected since May, when rumors of the decision first started circulating around NBCU's Los Angeles offices.
Ms. Kolb's promotion was the result of a long executive search that included both internal and external candidates, led by Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. "There were some very strong candidates out there who really wanted to take over E!, but ultimately the best person was right in our camp," Ms. Hammer told Ad Age . "Going outside would've been the wrong decision, based on what was already here. We didn't feel they needed to put their own signature on a team that was working already."
E!'s profile has been elevated in recent years with the ratings success of the reality franchise like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and its various spinoffs as well as late-night hit "Chelsea Lately," "Girls Next Door" spinoff "Kendra" and pop-culture series "The Soup."
But the network remains a medium-sized player in prime time, ranking No. 32 in total viewers during the second quarter and No. 25 among adults 18 to 49. It fares better among adults 18 to 34, where it ranked No. 18 during the same prime-time period.
Ms. Kolb said she and her executive team will be doing a "full-scale brand audit" on E! over the next few months to look at the network from a fresh perspective to determine its next direction. "E! has been doing very nicely over the last few years," she said. "There's huge potential and wind at our back, but we need to take a moment to stop and figure out where we want to be."
That may soon include scripted programming, one of three verticals Ms. Hammer sees for the network in addition to reality and news, which has already benefited from some NBCU corporate synergy.
"My hope is under Suzanne that where we go with scripted is so clear that it's the right series for E! -- not something you're going to find under USA or Syfy," Ms. Hammer said. "We want something so identifiable that people will say, 'I get why they're going into scripted.' Whatever happens will be additive. It has been supported inside of NBCU, and was the first thing I heard from many people when I first tried to get to know E!"