EXCLUSIVE: NBCUniversal’s cable networks USA and Syfy are laying off staff. The headcount reduction, which I hear affects less than 10% of the employees at the two networks, or about 25 people, stems from the February executive restructuring in NBCU’s cable division, which led to the consolidation of USA and Syfy into the Entertainment Networks Group under Chris McCumber. I hear contributing to the workforce reduction to a smaller degree is the recent consolidation of the scripted operations of USA, Syfy, Bravo and E! under Bill McGoldrick. There were similar layoffs at E! and Esquire following the move to consolidate NBCU’s lifestyle cable networks and combining the marketing operations of the two nets.
In McCumber’s note to the staff, he laid out his consolidated top executive team, which was revealed in February, including direct reports Alexandra Shapiro, EVP, Marketing and Digital; Rob Spodek, CFO; Katherine Nelson, SVP, Communications; and David Giles, SVP, Research. He also announced the launch of two new departments: Content Strategy, whose head is TBD, and Original Co-Productions, which will be led by Chris Regina, SVP, Original Co-Productions. He will report to McCumber and work closely with Bill McGoldrick in original content. Here is McCumber’s memo:
As we all know, this is a time of major change in our industry. In order to continue to thrive in this current environment, we need to take every opportunity to look at our business in a completely fresh way. It’s why, this February, we formed the new Entertainment Networks group, combining the strengths of USA Network and Syfy – two of the largest and most successful cable networks in the business – along with distinctive brands Chiller and Cloo.
Since taking on my new role, I’ve given careful and thoughtful consideration to our group with one main goal in mind: to design an organizational structure that operates more creatively and effectively, positioning us all for future success.
To that end, today I am announcing some changes that will maximize the potential of our strong brands, and harness our collective strengths to form one cohesive, collaborative, best-in-class team.
Senior executives across the entire Entertainment Networks group will now take on responsibility for both USA and Syfy, allowing us to streamline our structure and provide the flexibility to deploy our talent when and where they are most needed. And while many of you will have the exciting opportunity to work on multiple networks, some functions will remain dedicated to specific network brands where necessary.
My direct reports, including Alexandra Shapiro, EVP, Marketing and Digital; Rob Spodek, CFO; Katherine Nelson, SVP, Communications; and David Giles, SVP, Research will continue to provide strategic leadership across the group, alongside the leaders of two newly-formed departments: Content Strategy and Original Co-Productions.
Content Strategy, which will be made up of the combined programming, scheduling and acquisitions teams, will be focused on the strategic use of all available platforms to deliver our networks’ content. I will be announcing new leadership for this important group in the near future.
The Original Co-Productions team, previously part of scheduling and acquisitions, will now become its own department under the leadership of Chris Regina, SVP, Original Co-Productions. Chris has had incredible success at Syfy with co-productions such as the Sharknado franchise and Z Nation. He will report to me and work closely with Bill McGoldrick in original content.
Change is never easy, but it’s essential to meet not only the challenges of today, but those of the future. Fortunately, we are making these changes from a position of strength. 2015 marked USA’s 10th consecutive year as the #1 cable entertainment network, and Syfy is in the midst of a creative evolution that’s being widely embraced by critics and viewers alike.
Please stay tuned in the very near future for an invitation to a town hall, and thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support.