Will ESPN’s outgoing coordinating producer get along with the Today Show’s stars?
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International cable sports network ESPN’s Jamie Horowitz is already preparing for his return to the NBC network in December. He has been meeting with members of the NBC News team, apparently in an effort to get acquainted with his new staff.
Horowitz was seen having dinner with the Today Show’s longtime anchor Matt Lauer. He was also reported to have had lunch with Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of the former US President George W. Bush, who is a Today Show correspondent. The two were seen at the Morell Wine Bar in Rockefeller Center, where the NBC News studios are located.
Horowitz, until recently the vice president of original programming and production at ESPN, was poached by NBC back in May. In his new job he will be responsible for not only the Today Show itself, but also its website and its concert series at Rockefeller Center.
In his new capacity, Horowitz will report to NBC News president Deborah Turness. At the time of Horowitz’s hiring, she said in a staff memo: “With so much momentum at the Today show in recent months, we want to drive even greater integration and growth among all parts of the brand, on all platforms. This requires someone who can lead the various hours of the weekday show, Weekend Today, Today.com, and the Plaza experience.”
Horowitz said in a statement at the time, “This is an exciting and invigorating opportunity, and I am humbled to work with one of the most indelible brands in television.”
Part of his task at NBC will be to search for new formats for its programming, in addition to the traditional broadcast and digital platforms, such as moving into digital, e-commerce and events at Today.
It remains to be seen, however, if someone with only sports experience will be able to succeed in news.
While he was at ESPN, Horowitz was responsible for programs like Olbermann, which saw the return of the controversial cable talk show host Keith Olbermann to ESPN; the sports debate show First Take, SportsNation and the Sports Emmy-nominated and highly successful World Series of Poker.
Horowitz, 38, got his start at NBC working as an Olympic writer/researcher, compiling biographies of the athletes participating in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
He won four Sports Emmys for his work on coverage of the Olympics and the NBA on NBC. After that he served as an associate producer for NBC sports until 2006, creating and producing National Heads-Up Poker Championship and worked on remote and studio events for NBC’s coverage of NBA, NASCAR, and the Olympics.
Horowitz moved to ESPN eight years ago, and became a senior producer and eventually the coordinating producer.
He has won two People’s Voice Awards (Webbys) for video remixes in 2012 and 2013.
NBC hopes that Horowitz will help Today return to the number one spot in America’s morning television programming, a position which is currently held by rival ABC network’s Good Morning America. Specifically, Today needs to catch up the most important demographic in America, the 25-54-year-old age range.
NBCUniversal, the parent company of the NBC television network, reportedly had to make concessions to ESPN, to release Horowitz from his contract, still had two years left on it.