Comcast Eyes More Than $700 Million in Severance, COVID-19 Costs Through Year’s End

The current fourth quarter will not be a good one for some Comcast/NBCUniversal employees as the cable and media giant grabbles with internal restructuring and fiscal realities mandated by of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on business operations.

Speaking Oct. 29 on a fiscal call, CFO Mike Cavanagh said the company had endured $239 million in year-to-date costs related to layoffs and the pandemic across cable, amusement and NBCUniversal operations. That figure is expected to more than double through the end of the year to more than $700 million. Media reports suggest more than 300 employees at NBCUniversal could lose their jobs in television, studio and streaming by the end of the year.

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NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said the staff cuts and costs would impact the company well into 2021, underscoring the company’s “obligation” to adjust costs as revenue declines. The company recently consolidated all English-language TV networks under Frances Berwick for business operations and Susan Rovner for programming, including streaming.

“I really don’t think the definition of success is any different than it’s ever been,” Shell said. “Our job is to be profitable, generate cash flow and generate long-term value for the company, and that’s how we’re thinking about everything. And it is obviously a very changing world so you have to be nimble in doing that — but the measure of that are the same as they’ve always been.”

Shell said the [restructuring] going forward enables the company to find “great content” in a pandemic-impacted production world and use the streaming, broadband and cable platforms to maximize the value of it.

“It sets us up to grow as the world changes,” he said.

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