The layoff rumors are coming true: Warner Bros. Discovery, the recently merged parent company with HBO, is reducing personnel costs.
Fourteen percent of the workforce under HBO and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys will be cut, affecting 70 employees. New York Times reports that unscripted and live-action family programming on HBO Max, the streaming service, were the most affected. Other cuts affected HBO Max’s casting, acquisitions and international divisions. Unscripted shows deemed successful are expected to continue.
This restructuring comes on the heels of AT&T’s WarnerMedia officially united with Discovery, Inc. in April. Under the terms of the settlement, AT&T received $43 billion in cash and debt. But the company still has $53 billion in debt and is scrambling to do so cut costs to save $3 billion by 2023
In large tech mergers, layoffs are expected to eliminate layoffs. But fans of HBO Max programming were incensed by rumors of those cuts starting circulate seriously a few weeks ago, worrying that original scripted shows like “Hacks,” “Our Flag Means Death” or “The Flight Attendant” would be canceled. So far, HBO Max’s original scripts have not been affected.
It makes sense, though, why fans are concerned. As these rumors spread, the executive of Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav announced that the company will delay the adaptation of DC Comics “Batgirl”, even though the film is already completed and costs at least $70 million. Zaslav added that the sequel to an animated film about Scooby Doo will not be released either. To make matters worse, viewers noticed that HBO Max quietly removed six original movies from its service that starred talents like Anne Hathaway, Seth Rogen, and Cole Sprouse.
It’s already been a rough year for the newly merged media behemoth. Warner Bros. Discovery too pulled the plug on its CNN+ streaming service just one month after launch, costing the company $300 million.