WarnerMedia to cut thousands of jobs as part of cost-reduction plan

WarnerMedia is preparing to shed thousands of jobs as it restructures its operations, amidst the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on its business.

The AT&T-owned media giant is looking to cut costs by as much as 20% over the coming weeks, with layoffs affecting its Warner Bros. studio operation and its channels brands, which include HBO, TBS and TNT.

The HBO Max operator has been hit hard by the pandemic, as cash-strapped customers cut their cable subscriptions and movie theatres remain closed. TV advertising has also declined, further impacting the business.

Details of the restructuring remain scant but the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, said the cuts would result in thousands of job cuts across the company.

Jason Kilar

Repeated reduction

It is the latest overhaul for WarnerMedia, which cut hundreds of jobs at Warner Bros in August including that of long-time distribution chief Jeffrey Schlesinger.

The company has also recently rolled out its streaming service HBO Max, launched partly to replace its declining pay TV customers but securing just over four million subscribers to date.

That has been followed by a vast restructure under recently installed CEO Jason Kilar, which has put a focus on streaming. Senior execs to have left recently include Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, who departed along with Kevin Reilly, CCO of HBO Max and president of TNT, TBS, and truTV.

As part of the rejig, Warner Bros. chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff now leads a new studios and networks group, which combines original production and programming for its movies and TV output.

The latest developments come amid a raft of cost-cutting at US media giants, with Disney slashing almost 30,000 jobs at its theme parks division while NBCUniversal has combined its TV and streaming operation, again resulting in major job cuts.

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic,” WarnerMedia told the WSJ. “We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

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