We don’t talk a lot about executives here at TV Blend. We’ll talk about the men behind the cameras, directors, writers, sometimes even producers, but the suits are mostly talked about as one unified body described by their network of employment. For example, when we reported on the shake-up over at Blue Bloods, we used phrases like “the CBS executives felt…”. This is because the role of network executive has rapidly changed over the last few decades. Decisions are often made in tandem now. Focus groups are utilized, large numbers of people are consulted and this, in conjunction with ratings and profit margins, are balanced together to generate the most logical conclusion. To be fair, not every single network runs its operations this way and not every single executive fits so neatly into a box, but this team approach is quickly becoming the industry standard. Dick Ebersol’s resignation from NBC on Thursday is a great example.

Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of Dick Ebersol, the former president of NBC Sports has had an effect on how you watch television. Along with Lorne Michaels, he co-created Saturday Night Live and almost single-handedly saved the show from cancellation following the disastrous 1980-1981 season. He altered coverage of the Olympics by pushing to include behind the scenes features on particular athletes. He moved Monday Night Football to ESPN by switching NBC’s coverage to Sunday nights, creating the flexible scheduling that allows the most anticipated game to be shown to a national audience. He’s in the Olympic Hall of Fame. He’s in the Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He owns a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, and he produced the single most watched event in the history of television (The Beijing Olympics). And now he’s suddenly out of a job.

Both NBC and Dick Ebersol are playing nice, telling interested parties they just couldn’t work out the terms of a new agreement, but make no mistake, his departure is a sign of how much television has changed. All of these aforementioned decisions in the last paragraph were made by Ebersol’s gut. He saw what needed to be done, and he made it happen. Along the way, he gave numerous no bullshit interviews, often criticizing members of his own network in the process. Dick Ebersol had a particular way of doing things, a way that relied on himself and his own judgment, and that style is no longer compatible with the P.C., focus-group led mentality taking over network television.

This day was coming for awhile. Perhaps it’s even the right move for Comcast, but I, for one, will miss Ebersol’s impulsive style. It led to a lot of groundbreaking decisions, fascinating televisions shows, surprising 180s and risky gambles. The way we watch television will continue to evolve, but without Ebersol, it won’t evolve as quickly.

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