NBCUniversal Begins Layoffs, Cuts Expected to Be Kept Under 10%--Update
By Joe Flint
NBCUniversal has begun making staff cuts across its
entertainment portfolio including its sports and cable channels,
broadcast networks, movie studio and theme parks, according to
people familiar with the matter.
The layoffs have been anticipated for several months and are
primarily tied to the effect the coronavirus has had on many of the
Comcast Corp. unit's operations. Revenue at NBCU declined 25% to
$6.1 billion in the second quarter, a result of theme park
closures, the postponement of movie releases and advertising drops
at its TV properties.
NBCUniversal has 35,000 full-time employees. The reductions are
expected to be held to less than 10% of staff, a person close to
the matter said.
Other entertainment companies including Walt Disney Co. and Fox
Corp. have also been in cost-cutting mode as the coronavirus has
pummeled their bottom lines. AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia is
expected to begin staff reductions as early as next week, people
close to that company said. WarnerMedia is the parent of HBO,
Warner Bros. and several cable networks including CNN and TNT.
Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common
Most production of movies and television shows continues to be
shut down, particularly in Los Angeles. When production does
resume, costs are expected to rise as a result of testing and other
safety protocols related to the virus.
The NBCUniversal layoffs come at the same time the company is
overhauling its entertainment operations under new Chief Executive
Jeff Shell. On last week's Comcast earnings call, Mr. Shell said
the unit is "finalizing a new structure that will demonstrate the
unique way we intend to manage this business going forward."
The new structure is expected to combine much of NBCU's content
business. Mr. Shell wants to centralize programming into a hub
rather than each individual platform having its own content unit.
The new approach will likely lead to leadership shake-ups across
the company's West Coast operations.
NBCU last week said it launched a probe into the culture of the
prime-time entertainment unit of NBC, its flagship broadcast
network, which is overseen by entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy.
The probe followed a story in The Hollywood Reporter that painted a
picture of a toxic and misogynistic environment in the unit.
Mr. Telegdy denied the claims, saying in a statement last week,
"the nature of these allegations flies in the face of everything I
stand for. I hope that my actions over decades -- empowering those
around me, supporting artists, and creating shows with values of
aspiration and inclusion at the core -- speak louder than the
selective words of a few."
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 04, 2020 12:38 ET (16:38 GMT)
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