ViacomCBS is going through its second round of layoffs since the CBS-Viacom merger in December 2019.
Deadline reported that the latest wave of layoffs were centered on Pop TV and noted that an estimated 100 employees were expected to receive pink slips by the end of March.
IndieWire has reached out to ViacomCBS for comment.
“Schitt’s Creek,” Pop’s flagship series, will air its series finale on April 7. Pop is reviving Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” for a fourth season that will premiere on March 24. CBS took full ownership of the cable channel in March 2019 for an undisclosed sum.
Layoffs were always expected to result from the VCBS-Viacom merger. The combined entity was anticipating $500 million in “cost savings,” — which often means layoffs — as far back as August 2019. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish told investors that the company would seek to increase cost savings to $750 million during the its Feb. 20 earnings call, according to Deadline.
Wall Street has not taken kindly to the merger and analysts have questioned how the company will thrive in a television market that has become more crowded than ever. ViacomCBS’ stock has mostly trended downward since the merger completed.
The layoff news continues what has been an uncertain few months for the newly merged company. Though the merger was a major victory for media mogul Shari Redstone, who fought a three-year battle to reunite the two companies, the CBS-Viacom merger resulted in more questions than answers for outside parties.
Chief among those questions is how ViacomCBS will stand out in the ongoing streaming wars, which will become even more competitive when HBO Max and Peacock launch in the coming months. Though ViacomCBS operates CBS All Access, which boasts “Star Trek: Picard” and the “The Twilight Zone” revival, the platform does not have the volume of content to directly compete with the likes of Netflix or most of the industry’s other leading streaming services. Adding to confusion are the rumors that ViacomCBS is reportedly planning to launch a new streaming service that would combine CBS All Access with various Viacom assets, though additional details about that platform are thin.
Deadline obtained an internal memo written by Pop TV head Brad Schwartz regarding the layoffs, part of which is available below:
“Before joining ViacomCBS, we operated as a standalone company and we were therefore staffed accordingly,” Schwartz said in the memo. “As we integrate Pop into the larger ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group, filled with some of the most powerful brands in the industry, a lot of the work is being centralized across the portfolio to truly unleash our collective strengths and maximize the power of our content. To that end, Pop will continue to be an important part of the business but, unfortunately, we are saying goodbye to some close friends and talented colleagues.”
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