Warner Bros. Discovery CEO says Mass Layoffs Came Because Prior Businesses Weren’t Ready For the Future of Streaming





Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Wednesday took to the stage at the New York Times Dealbook Summit and spoke about his plans to create a profitable, “healthy company.”

Like a majority of streaming companies, Zaslav said his goal for Warner Bros. Discovery is to achieve profitability and compete with other streamers, not to spend the most money. As a result, he oversaw the layoff of hundreds of employees.

“Warner Bros. and Time Warner are companies that had never been restructured for the future,” Zaslav said.

This comes as AT&T let go of Warner Bros. last year and Discovery leadership took over. AT&T got out of Hollywood and merged those assets with Discovery, forming Zaslav’s Warner Bros. Discovery. 

Since taking the helm of the company, Zaslav’s tenure has been marked by a series of difficult decisions. During the summit, Zaslav defended the choices made to get the new company on track financially. 

Prior to the merger, Zaslav said “Warner was spending $36 billion on content and losing money.” So far, Warner Bros. Discovery has paid down $12 billion of its $56 billion debt that it took on to complete the merger, according to Yahoo Finance via Fortune (a paywalled publication). 

During Zaslav’s stint as CEO, Warner Bros. Discovery shelved several completed movies, a controversial move that angered some in Hollywood. He also rebranded HBO Max as Max, shut down CNN+ within weeks of launching, having since launched a CNN Max instead, and put its cable sports content on the streaming service. This all happened amid a massive restructuring that eliminated a large number of jobs.

During the summit, Zaslav said the first day of the mass layoffs was his “worst day on the job.”

Zaslav said that the rise of streaming services and the companies, prior to the merger, weren’t “properly organized” for the evolving business landscape. 

Over the last few years, the streaming industry has faced a series of obstacles like rising inflation rates, increasingly budget-conscious customers, and the since-resolved Hollywood writers and actors strikes.

A majority of providers are looking for ways to stay afloat during turbulent times like offering promotions, bundle deals, and striking new partnership agreements, but it’s uncertain whether all the services will survive the next few years.

AT&T wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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