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HBO and HBO Max hit with 70 layoffs as Warner Bros. Discovery looks to cut costs

Two women, one in leopard print clothes, stand outside with hills in the background.
Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder in “Hacks” on HBO Max.
(Karen Ballard/HBO Max)

Layoffs have come to HBO Max.

About 70 people are being cut from the team overseen by HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys, accounting for 14% of his staff, as parent company Warner Bros. Discovery looks for cost savings from the recent merger, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

Warner Bros. Discovery gave more details on its strategy to compete in the streaming wars.

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Units affected by the cuts include HBO Max’s original reality TV group, as expected. The streaming service’s unscripted TV group was rendered obsolete when HBO Max and the rest of the WarnerMedia companies were merged with Discovery Inc., which is famous for its reality shows from Food Network, HGTV, TLC and others.

Additional units hit by layoffs include HBO Max’s international co-productions, casting and the group responsible for acquiring outside content for the service. HBO Max is expected to focus on shows and movies produced within Warner Bros. Discovery, rather than buying them from other studios.

Severe cuts are expected at other divisions at the media and entertainment giant, which encompasses the Warner Bros. film and TV studio, CNN, TBS, Turner Classic Movies and the various Discovery reality channels. Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav has promised Wall Street $3 billion in cost savings from the merger.

With ‘Hacks,’ ‘Succession’ and ‘The White Lotus,’ HBO and HBO Max led the field with a combined 140 Emmy nominations.

The company’s stock has struggled since the acquisition, falling nearly 50% since the deal closed in April. The company earlier this month reported disappointing earnings and forecasts, while laying out a plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service to launch in the U.S. next summer.

The company said it is aiming for 130 million global streaming subscribers in 2025 and that its U.S. direct-to-consumer business will be profitable by 2024.

HBO Max is also restructuring its business amid the effort to streamline it. Sarah Aubrey will continue to oversee HBO Max’s original dramas and will add international programming to her purview, working with the team led by Warner Bros. Discovery International President Gerhard Zeiler. Comedy originals, however, will move from Aubrey to HBO comedy head Amy Gravitt.

The changes come as Warner Bros. Discovery revamps its strategy for competing in the media industry’s march toward the streaming future. The company is looking to bolster its streaming efforts while also supporting its traditional businesses, including cable channels and theatrical movies.

Netflix has 221 million subscribers, while Disney+ has 152.1 million.

Bloys’ programming team recently scored 140 Emmy nominations for HBO and HBO Max, the most of any network or streaming service, led by shows including HBO’s “The White Lotus” and “Succession” along with HBO Max’s “Hacks.”


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