The layoffs of about 30% of ad sales employees at Warner Bros Discovery started today and will likely proceed over the next few weeks.
The latest cuts from a combined workforce in the range of 40,000 (10,000 from Discovery and the rest from WarnerMedia) come as the company continues to work toward to achieving at least $3 billion in cost savings from the $43 billion merger. Since the deal closed in April, the company has embarked on an aggressive effort to roll back expenses in many areas. Not all of the savings will be achieved via lower payroll, of course — many operations are also coming together, none bigger than the streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels estimated the merger of streaming services could bring as much as $6 billion in savings thanks to reduced duplication in technology and other functions. He said he has “never had any doubt about our ability to deliver those financial targets,” and said between $2 billion and $3 billion of actual cost savings has already been recorded, with the rest due in 2023. A person familiar with the layoffs said they should result in a “steady state” of staffing by the early part of next year. The latest cuts are not expected to involve particularly high-ranking or high-profile employees.
“We are moving at pace here,” Wiedenfels said. “Everything is on the table. now is the time to discuss, now is the time to form a vision.”
Decisions about staffing have largely been left up to individual departments, according to insiders, though budget targets have been communicated by senior management.
Axios and Bloomberg both previously reported on the layoffs.
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