HBO lays off about 70 staffers in latest round of cuts

WARNER Bros Discovery Inc is firing about 70 workers who work at HBO and HBO Max, the latest round of cutbacks after its parent company merged with Discovery Inc.

The cuts affect 14% of the staff under HBO chief content officer Casey Bloys and fall heavily on a group that makes live-action programmes for kids and families, an area the company is now deemphasising. Bloys is also consolidating the HBO and HBO Max comedy development teams into one group, the company said on Monday.

Warner Bros Discovery, formed in April through the combination of Discovery and AT&T Inc’s WarnerMedia division, has been cutting costs to reduce the debt needed to finance the deal. CEO David Zaslav has said he’ll wring at least US$3 billion in annual savings.

Zaslav has surprised the media industry with moves such as shutting down the recently launched CNN+ streaming service and axing an almost finished film, “Batgirl”, which was to run on the company’s HBO Max streaming service. Zaslav has said his emphasis will be on fewer, higher-quality films and TV shows.

HBO has weathered several rounds of restructuring in recent years. Its former owner AT&T created a separate programming team for the new streaming service HBO Max that was led by Kevin Reilly and Sarah Aubrey. It later consolidated most of the programming for both HBO and HBO Max under Bloys. Reilly left while Aubrey remained.

Zaslav has expressed confidence in Bloys, who signed a five-year contract earlier this year.