Warner Bros. Discovery Braces For New Round Of Layoffs This Week – Deadline


Another wave of Warner Bros Discovery post-merger layoffs is coming. We hear multiple divisions of the merged company will be impacted, with Warner Bros. Television Group considered a main target. The staff reductions are expected this week, as soon as tomorrow. Speculation about the pending downsizing started spreading like wildfire Monday morning. Reps for WBD and WBTVG declined comment.

The size of the layoffs is unclear but appear to be substantial. The HBO/HBO Max programming operation in August laid off 14% of staff — about 70 people — the vast majority of them on the Max side, with the areas of Max Non-Fiction Originals, International, Acquisitions, Casting and Live-Action Family Originals as the most heavily impacted.

A new round of WBD layoffs was expected in the fall as the goal has been for the cuts to be over before the start of the holiday season, so this is not a surprise.

“Everyone was given financial targets going into Q4,” a corporate insider told Deadline. “Those targets include head counts, and October was always the expectation for the axe to fall.”

Like with HBO/HBO Max, the WBTVG layoffs are expected to be accompanied by a some sort of realignment spearheaded by Chairman Channing Dungey.

Content-wise, the most significant overlap between Discovery and WarnerMedia is in the unscripted TV area, so potential further cuts beyond the HBO Max layoffs had been rumored. WBD’s unscripted studio business, part of Warner Bros. TV Group, is run by Mike Darnell, who has been President, Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television since he joined in 2013. We hear the veteran reality executive would likely stay put at the studio, which operates a number of non-scripted divisions including Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures and Shed Media. (The Discovery side essentially doesn’t have a production side, other than its ownership stake in British production group All3Media, and having previously merged Discovery Studios into All3Media label Bright Spot.)

Brooke Karzen, head of development and programming for Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, which makes shows such as The Bachelor, just stepped down and is leaving the company. David McGuire leads current programming and oversees development at Telepictures with Lisa Shannon and Dan Peirson running development and programming at Shed Media.

Other areas rumored to potentially be affected include TV animation following HBO Max’s recent decision to cut back on the genre, triggering the cancellation of several of Warner Bros.-produced series. On the live-action side, Warner Bros. TV is preparing for the impact of the CW changing ownership, which is expected to significantly reduce the studio’s output for the network.

The most recent major layoffs to hit Warner Bros.’ production divisions came in 2020 when 600 employees at then-AT&T-owned WarnerMedia were impacted, a significant portion of them at Warner Bros Entertainment. Along with the cuts, Warner Bros. Television and Warner Horizon Scripted TV were combined. There was also consolidation on the unscripted side under Darnell, resulting in a number of layoffs. This all happened before Dungey took over Warner Bros. Television Group as Chairman, succeeding Peter Roth. The studio is coming off big Emmy wins for Ted Lasso and Abbott Elementary.

Warner Bros.’ movie studio also has new heads in Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy. Word is that theatrical distribution and marketing would not be significantly impacted; the studio has 14 theatrical releases next year.

Other areas rumored to get staff reductions this week include WBD Streaming Marketing and IT.

The pending layoffs are part of WBD leadership’s pledge to find at least $3 billion in savings. The process started with several high-profile executive departures, led by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar and like Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, in the first three months after the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger was completed.

Dominic Patten and Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report.


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