WarnerMedia Boss Jason Kilar Sends Out Staff Memo Announcing Job Cuts

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar Nov. 10 sent out a staff email outlining the company’s ongoing restructuring, which the former Hulu CEO said included addressing “which jobs are being eliminated and which roles have changed.”

The memo did not identify specific positions or personnel. A town hall meeting is scheduled for Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT at which Kilar said he will answer staff questions.

Since acquiring Time Warner and creating WarnerMedia, AT&T has grappled with paying down billions in debt and streamlining costs magnified during a pandemic.

Kilar, who was hired by corporate parent AT&T on April 1 to spearhead the former Time Warner company, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, has previously disclosed that upwards of 20% of WarnerMedia’s staff positions would be let go. In August, Kilar cut about 500 positions, including that of longtime home entertainment boss Ron Sanders, as part of restructuring the company’s entertainment studios, elevating HBO Max companywide, and consolidating commercial activities.

“This is a very painful email to write,” Kilar wrote. “And for a number of you reading this, I realize it will be even more painful to receive. For this, I am sorry.”

“Today, we have arrived at a number of difficult decisions that are resulting in a smaller WarnerMedia team,” Kilar wrote. “This is a function of removing layers and the impact of consolidating previously separate organizations. Starting today in North America, we will be sharing which jobs are being eliminated and which roles have changed. We are continuing to review proposed changes in other countries across our non-U.S. businesses, the timing of which will vary according to local regulatory requirements. Nothing about this is easy. But please know, these reductions are not in any way a reflection of the quality of the team members impacted, nor their work. It is simply a function of the changes I believe we must make in order to best serve customers. For those impacted, we will be offering severance and healthcare packages, in addition to professional services and team member assistance programs.”

Kilar said he anticipates that organizationally, things will “settle down materially” in the weeks and months to come, while adding that WarnerMedia’s future is not static.

“Our future is about inventing ever better ways to move the world through story, which entails embracing change,” he wrote. “I have every confidence in this world class team to do just that.”

To our colleagues who are leaving, I wish there were words to lessen today’s pain. Your contributions are a permanent part of this great company and today’s news does not change that. I am extremely thankful for all that you have done for this team and this mission. I hope that at some point you will look back on all of it with immense pride.

WarnerMedia Planning to Cut Workforce Upwards of 20%

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is continuing to clean house since being hired earlier this year by AT&T CEO John Stankey to run the former Time Warner entity. Kilar, who formerly headed Hulu, reportedly is seeking additional entertainment cuts approaching 20% of the company’s workforce since eliminating 500 positions in August. Those layoffs included Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. worldwide theatrical distribution and president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Cuts in the coming weeks are expected at Warner Bros., HBO, TBS and TNT.

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic,” a WarnerMedia spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the restructuring. “We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

WarnerMedia reportedly had 26,000 employees when it was Time Warner. With the entertainment sector in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and studio and TV production in slow motion, WarnerMedia is putting much of its resources into HBO Max, the recently-launched SVOD and pending AVOD platform.

Max had about 4.1 million people activate the app in the first month since launching on May 27. When combined with a negotiations impasse with Roku regarding placement of the Max app on the streaming media manufacturer’s platform, the SVOD and pending AVOD platform significantly lags behind rivals Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

In addition, Warner Bros. continues to push back theatrical releases to 2021, including most recently sci-fi reboot Dune, from December to next year. Robert Pattinson starrer The Batman has been bumped from 2021 to 2022. Patty Jenkins sequel Wonder Woman 1984 has been bumped three times to the current Dec. 25 release.

“There’s nothing that’s sacred anywhere in the business,” Stankey told The Journal earlier this year. “WarnerMedia is no exception to that.”

WarnerMedia Launches Voter Engagement Platform

Seeking to make voting in the upcoming presidential election as easy as possible for employees and viewers, WarnerMedia Sept. 22 announced the launch of a nonpartisan voter engagement resource center, aimed at providing the tools necessary to take part in the Nov. 3 election. The center provides access to the company’s civic engagement efforts, including voter registration support, programming and key partnerships.

The AT&T unit, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, is encouraging registered voters to pledge to vote as well as enlist their friends, families and colleagues to do the same. To help make that a reality, WarnerMedia is collaborating with Rock the VoteVoto LatinoWhen We All VoteNAACP Legal Defense FundShe Se Puede and Color of Change.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The move comes as the politically divided country prepares for the Nov. 3 election day, with allegations of voter suppression efforts in some parts of the country.

“In today’s climate, it is more important than ever to be prepared with a voting plan, make sure you are registered to vote, and know your state’s absentee ballot rules and regulations,” Dennis Williams, SVP of corporate social responsibility at WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

Williams said the media giant is coordinating its online voter engagement hub, programming and collaborations with third party organizations, to encourage all “our fans and employees around the country to engage in the democratic process and ensure their vote is counted.”

WarnerMedia’s brands featuring civic-minded programming and information include “Citizen by CNN,” the network’s civic engagement platform introducing tools that aim to connect users to personalized, local information about candidates, voting and issues. The tool will help users discover local information on where/how to vote, allow them to stay up to date on important changes to voting information, and empower them to get information to feel confident casting their ballot.

WarnerMedia is also helping make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 United States Census. Young children are missed in the census for a multitude of reasons, but confusion about who goes on the form is a major one. Nearly 40% of children under five live in complex households, where they may split time between homes, be cared for by foster parents, grandparents, or other relatives, or their caregivers may be housing-insecure. Uncertainty about who counts on the census questionnaire is only magnified if the child lives in a linguistically isolated household.

“Through a bilingual kit developed on ‘Sesame Street,’ we’re striving to close this gap,” Williams said.

WarnerMedia also has a series of related programming lined up with the goal being to increase participation in the election. A few of the productions include:A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote”; “On The Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries”; “Siempre, Luis”; “Stockton on My Mind”; “John Lewis: Good Trouble”; and “American Utopia.”

“‘When We All Vote’ is on a mission to change the culture around voting, which means we have to reach people where they are,” Crystal Carson, VP of culture, communications and media partnerships for When We All Vote, said in a statement. “That’s why we are proud to collaborate with WarnerMedia to encourage eligible voters to register and make a plan to cast their ballot this election.”

Carolyn Dewitt, executive director of Rock the Vote, said working with WarnerMedia has help empower the media company’s employees and audiences with information and resources needed to make their voices heard in the 2020 election.

“WarnerMedia understands the power of its platform to reach millions of eligible voters and takes that responsibility seriously by creating a culture of civic engagement for all WarnerMedia family,” DeWitt said.

WarnerMedia: HBO and HBO Max Subs Top 36.3 Million

Following the May 27 launch of HBO Max, observers have been on high alert for any subscriber data from the upstart subscription video-on-demand platform. They’ll have to keep waiting for now.

WarnerMedia July 23 disclosed it had 36.3 million combined U.S. subscribers to HBO Max and HBO, up from 34.6 million on Dec. 31, 2019. It isn’t clear whether the 1.7 million sub increase is related to Max exclusively or a combination of HBO, HBO Now and HBO Max. In the quarter, WarnerMedia announced it would shutter HBO Go, which enabled HBO pay-TV subs on-demand access to programming.

WarnerMedia is the company formed by AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, including Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Regardless, the coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively impact entertainment companies not named Netflix. WarnerMedia reported second-quarter operating income of $1.9 billion, which was down 18.4% from operating income of $2.32 billion during the previous-year period. Revenue plummeted 23% to $6.8 billion from $8.83 billion last year.

Warner revenue for the quarter dipped 3.9% to $3.3 billion from revenue of $3.43 billion in the previous-year period. The decline was driven by the absence of theatrical releases, lower video game and other revenue, partially offset by higher television revenue, including internal sales to HBO Max — WarnerMedia’s new subscription streaming video-on-demand platform.

Follow us on Instagram

Studio operating expenses totaled $2.6 billion, down 11.1% from $2.92 billion last year. The decline was primarily due to the production hiatus and lower marketing expenses partially offset by higher film and production costs associated with HBO Max sales.

HBO revenue dropped 5.2% to $1.6 billion from $1.68 billion, driven by lower subscription revenue due to domestic linear subscriber declines, partially offset by growth in digital and international, including HBO Latin America following WarnerMedia’s May acquisition of the remaining interest in this entity.

Content and other revenue also decreased as a result of lower content licensing. HBO operating expenses totaled $1.5 billion, up 32.5% versus the second quarter of 2019, driven by increased programming expenses related HBO Max.

Turner revenue for the second quarter dropped 12.4% to $3 billion from $3.42 billion, driven by lower advertising revenue primarily from the postponement of the NBA season. Subscription revenue declines were also down due to lower regional sports network revenues and unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

Operating expenses totaled $1.4 billion, down 37.2% from $2.23 billion last year, driven by the timing of sports costs associated primarily with the delayed NBA season.

CNN Launching Digital News Service

WarnerMedia’s CNN property is reportedly readying a standalone subscription based news service that would target the news organization’s online  audience — and also pay third-party news sources.

The move comes after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. subsidiary announced plans to launch Knewz.com, which seeks to aggregate third-party and original content.

As more people seek out world and local news online, TV news departments and print publications are melding operations internally with over-the-top video platforms to compete with social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

While CNN lags behind Fox News in monthly pay-TV viewership, it bests the Rupert Murdoch property online with 130,000 more unique eyeballs per month than Fox, according to comScore.

“In the same way that entertainment companies don’t want to cede ground to the streaming platforms, why should we cede the ground of journalism to the technology platforms,” CNN digital chief Andrew Morse told The Information.

Sofia Chang and Rich Warren Tapped to Lead WarnerMedia Distribution

Sofia Chang and Rich Warren have been named to lead WarnerMedia Sales and International’s distribution business.

Both will take the role of president of WarnerMedia Distribution, and will oversee distribution for all Turner channels, HBO, Cinemax and HBO Max and will report to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia, and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

Chang held the previous post of EVP of global digital distribution for HBO, and Warren was president, Turner content distribution.

Chang has held several positions in the company since joining HBO in 2000. She has led the transactional digital and physical distribution of HBO and Cinemax programs worldwide and since 2015, she has been responsible for distributing HBO and Cinemax subscription services on all digital platforms.

Warren has been at the company for 19 years and has led Turner’s distribution team, where he was responsible for the company’s multiplatform distribution of linear networks, digital brands and on-demand content, affiliate marketing, business development, strategic planning and business affairs.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Bringing together the distribution business is a further example of how WarnerMedia will be collaborating and working as one company,” according to a studio press release. “As the company looks to meet the challenges of the industry head on, this new structure does that.”

“We will have two hugely experienced leaders who know our business inside out,” said Zeiler in a statement. “Over the last few months I have worked closely with both; Sofia’s experience and success in driving HBO’s digital subscriptions has been of great value as I have looked to understand the U.S. HBO business in greater depth and detail, and Rich has brought his strategic skills to the table as we have sought this way forward. Working together both will provide the strategy and direction needed to enable future growth.”

WarnerMedia Eyes Global Footprint; Names Giorgio Stock President of Europe, Middle East Operations

WarnerMedia Aug. 2 announced the appointment of Giorgio Stock to the new role of President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Distribution and Advertising Sales, EMEA and APAC.

With immediate effect, Stock, previously President, EMEA, for Turner, takes on responsibility for all entertainment networks, distribution of all networks, advertising sales and the kids networks operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

Stock will continue to be based in London and reports into Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler.

Giorgio Stock

In his new role, Stock will be supported by the leadership team of Ricky Ow, President Turner Asia Pacific, Hervé Payan, CEO HBO Europe, and Jonathan Spink, CEO HBO Asia, all of whom now report into him.

“In his previous role as President, Turner EMEA, Giorgio transformed the organization and built a strong team who together invested in excellent premium content, created new revenue streams and optimized business operations,” Zeiller said.

The appointment represents WarnerMedia’s decision to give Europe and Middle Eastern operations singular leadership through the existing strengths of the Turner and HBO businesses, while also equipping them for further collaboration and growth.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In addition to Stock, the international executives reporting to Zeiler are Whit Richardson, President Turner Latin America, and Rani Raad, President CNNI Commercial.

Stock joined the company in 2013 as President Turner EMEA with executive oversight of all Turner kids and entertainment networks in the region, including digital and media services of core brands such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT and TCM as well as kids streaming service Toonix, available direct-to-consumer and via a partnership with HBO Nordic, the network’s over-the-top video service .

His role also included the distribution of CNN’s services, and licensing and merchandising activity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as international L&M liaison.

Stock joined Turner after a 15-year career with Disney where he held publishing and content leadership roles out of Paris, New York, Milan and London overseeing television, publishing, retail, music and gaming.

 

 

 

WarnerMedia Hires First Diversity/Inclusion Officer

WarnerMedia June 12 announced the hiring of Christy Haubegger as the media company’s first chief enterprise inclusion officer.

Haubegger, who spent 14 years at Creative Artists Agency, reports directly to CEO John Stankey and works with senior management to drive business growth through strategic investment in diverse audiences and to ensure the organization’s workforce is representative of the markets it serves.

Christy Haubegger

“As we transform our businesses and our culture, we see a unique opportunity to generate outsize growth by delivering world-class content that engages underserved audiences,” Stankey said in a statement. “To realize that opportunity we must make strategic investments, build a more representative workforce, and create a truly inclusive culture.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Created with AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, WarnerMedia says it want to recognize diversity and inclusion as business imperatives.

The company claims to use its best efforts to ensure diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.

At CAA, Haubegger spearheaded representation of women and people of color, and helped transformed the diversity of the workforce.

The talent agency has long focused on innovation through diversity and implemented strategies to create sustainable change within the agency and beyond.

Under Haubegger’s leadership, CAA launched “CAA Amplify,” an invitation-only annual event convening high-level multicultural artists and leaders, as well as the industry’s first searchable database of television writers of color.

During her tenure, the agency grew its diverse roster more than 1400% and according to USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the agency now represents the largest share of female directors and African- American directors in the motion picture business.

“Christy Haubegger is one of a kind. She is a talented and visionary leader who made a transformational impact on the agency throughout her tenure,” said CAA president Richard Lovett. “She influenced our business and culture, and established CAA as a leader in the promotion of inclusion, creating initiatives that support and advance underrepresented voices. We remain steadfast in our commitment to moving our industry forward and are thrilled to continue working collaboratively with Christy in her new role.”

WarnerMedia Entertainment to Boycott Georgia Should Anti-Abortion Ban Become Law

WarnerMedia Entertainment May 30 joined Disney and Netflix in pledging to withdraw movie and TV show productions from Georgia should the state’s new anti-abortion law go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Brian Kemp May 8 signed legislation outlawing women from terminating their pregnancy six weeks after becoming pregnant. Georgia currently bans abortions after 20 weeks.

“We operate and produce work in many states and within many countries at any given time and while that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” WarnerMedia said in a media statement. “We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds, we will reconsider Georgia as the home of any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine where and how to shoot any given project.”

In addition to CNN and Turner in Atlanta, WarnerMedia has significant content production in Georgia, which has been home to a hotbed of film and TV production for years due to generous tax incentives.

TNT’s ‘I Am the Night’ Coming to DVD June 11

TNT’s six-episode miniseries I Am the Night will arrive on DVD June 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The finale airs on TNT March 5.

Inspired by true events, ​​I Am the Night​ tells the story of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a teenage girl who is given away at birth, and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. One day, makes a discovery that leads her to question her origins, and during her investigation she meets a disgraced reporter (Chris Pine), and together they uncover a sinister trail leading them to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist (Jefferson Mays), who may be involved with Hollywood’s most infamous unsolved crime.

The miniseries was directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Sam Sheridan.

The DVD will include the documentary “Myths from Inside the Sowden House,” an 18-minute look into The Black Dahlia killings and the house where it all began.