The bloodbath continues at Warner Bros. Discovery, as the newly formed conglomerate is planning to lay off 70 content staffers from across HBO and HBO Max. The news was confirmed to IndieWire by Warner Bros. Discovery representatives.
The layoffs represent 14% of Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys’ staff, and the eliminated positions are primarily focused on reality content, though other departments including casting and acquisition will also be impacted. Such a move has been expected for quite some time, given Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus into a single streaming service. The two services are a natural fit, considering HBO Max’s prestigious scripted shows and Discovery Plus’ highly profitable reality content. Many observers thought that shedding some overlapping positions was always going to be inevitable.
HBO Max’s fate has been the subject of plenty of speculation in recent weeks, with Warner Bros. Discovery sending conflicting signals about the fate of the popular streaming service. The company recently made waves when it scrapped plans to release several HBO Max original movies, including “Batgirl,” and removed multiple other movies and series from the service. The moves seem to be part of a shift away from expensive prestige streaming content, with the company redirecting resources towards large theatrical films and relying on cheaper content to fill its streaming services.
The layoffs are the latest casualty of the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery, with CEO David Zaslav imposing a mandate to find $3 billion in synergies between the two companies. In June, the company began laying off a significant portion of its ad sales staff, but few in the industry expected the layoffs to end there. When Warner Bros. Discovery reported a $3.4 billion loss in its first full quarter as a combined company, many believed that more significant content layoffs would be announced sooner rather than later.
“We’ve had a busy, productive four months since launching Warner Bros. Discovery, and have more conviction than ever in the massive opportunity ahead,” Zaslav said on the company’s recent Q2 earnings call. “We’re confident we’re on the right path to meet our strategic goals and really excel, both creatively and financially, and couldn’t be more excited about the future of our company.”