Comcast has taken COVID-related severance and restructuring charges of $239 million to date and will see a hit of “about double that” in the current fourth quarter as it continues to align the cost structure across its businesses, CFO Mike Cavanaugh said Thursday. That’s a total north of $700 million.
As theme parks shed employees, entertainment has also been convulsed by waves of layoffs. Deadline reported yesterday that as many as 300 NBCU staffers may lose their jobs in two more rounds of cuts next month, and again in December or early next year at the recently formed Television and Streaming division.
NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell, speaking after Cavanaugh on a call to discuss Comcast’s latest financials, acknowledged the dramatic revamp underway at his division, forced by COVID and a shifting entertainment landscape.
“Organizationally, I really think we are kind of through the execution of most of our restructuring. The costs will hit over the next 12 months. There’s about a third of them in this quarter and by the middle next year we will be through the majority of them,” he said.
“They are designed for two things: We have an obligation as our revenue moves down to adjust our cost base. But more importantly, we have really realigned our TV organization under Mark Lazarus,” Shell said.
“I really don’t think the definition of success is any different than it’s ever been. Our job is to be profitable, generate cash flow and long-term value for the company. And it is obviously a very changing world so you have to be nimble in doing that,” he added, asked by an analyst what a reconfigured, slimmed down NBCU wants achieve and how it measures success.
“It used to be in the TV world you were very vertically oriented by network … and every network had their management team and staff. We realigned kind of dramatically. Everything is one management group in the TV business under two great executives, Frances Berwick and Susan Rovner. And the idea now is to find great content and use our platforms [from linear to Peacock] to maximize the value of it. I am really excited about it. It does result in a lot less cost. But I think more importantly, it sets us up to grow as the word changes.”
NBCU’s streamlining consolidated all English-language linear networks into one group, overseen by Frances Berwick on the business side and Susan Rovner on the programming side. Rovner also oversees programming for streamer Peacock.
Telemundo, regional sports networks operated by NBCU, and the theme-park unit were affected in an earlier wave of layoffs. Also paired down in August was a portfolio of “Talk”-branded websites operated by NBC Sports like Hardball Talk and College Football Talk and Pro Football Talk.
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