The rumored layoffs are coming true: Warner Bros. Discovery, the newly merged parent company to HBO, is cutting personnel costs.
Fourteen percent of staff under HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys will be laid off, impacting 70 employees. The New York Times reports that unscripted and live-action family programming for HBO Max, the streaming service, were most affected. Other cuts impacted HBO Max’s casting, acquisitions and international departments. Unscripted shows that are considered successful are expected to continue.
This restructuring comes after AT&T’s WarnerMedia officially merged with Discovery, Inc. in April. Under terms of the agreement, AT&T received $43 billion in cash and debt. But the company still has a debt load of $53 billion and is trying to cut costs to save $3 billion in 2023.
In major tech mergers, layoffs are expected to eliminate redundancies. But fans of HBO Max programming were enraged by the rumors of these layoffs, which began circulating in earnest a few weeks ago, worrying that original scripted shows like “Hacks,” “Our Flag Means Death” or “The Flight Attendant” would be cancelled. So far, HBO Max’s original scripted shows haven’t been impacted.
It makes sense why fans are concerned, though. As these rumors circulated, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced that the company would shelve the DC Comics adaptation “Batgirl,” even though the film was already finished and cost at least $70 million. Zaslav added that the sequel to an animated Scooby Doo movie wouldn’t be released either. To make matters worse, viewers noticed that HBO Max had quietly removed six original movies from its service, which featured talent like Anne Hathaway, Seth Rogen and Cole Sprouse.
It’s already been a rough year for the newly-merged media mammoth. Warner Bros. Discovery also pulled the plug on its CNN+ streaming service just one month after launch, costing the company $300 million.