NBCUniversal Begins Layoffs As Streaming-Driven Reshaping Takes Effect

NBCUniversal is beginning layoffs as it carries out a planned restructuring designed to emphasize its streaming operations.

CEO Jeff Shell confirmed the overhaul was coming last week during Comcast’s second-quarter earnings call, but he didn’t mention any specifics or timeline. A person close to the company confirmed to Deadline that the cuts were under way.

Reports have swirled in about the reshaping of NBCU in recent weeks, with another variable being an internal probe of NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy’s alleged conduct.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said the cutbacks would likely be held to less than 10% of the company’s 35,000 employees. Sources indicated to Deadline that the Journal number was a bit aggressive, though the layoffs would affect a range of divisions.

“It is said that crises tend to accelerate and exacerbate trends that are already happening,” Shell said on the earnings call. “That is certainly true in the television business, where viewership is rapidly shifting from linear to nonlinear. A few months ago, we combined our television and streaming businesses under Mark Lazarus, which will allow us to more rapidly shift our resources and investment from linear to streaming. Mark is finalizing a new structure that will demonstrate the unique way we intend to manage this business going forward.”

The Lazarus-related reorg is one aspect of the cuts, but COVID-19’s impact on NBCU theme parks, movie and TV production, live sports broadcasts and other operations is the other major factor. The exact number of affected employees and details of the new org chart are expected to be finalized in mid- to late-August, according to an internal video shared with employees, Deadline reported last Friday.

One area being pared down at NBCU came to light Monday when a number of former staffers at a portfolio of “Talk”-branded websites operated by NBC Sports said they had left the company amid cutbacks. Sites like Hardball Talk and College Football Talk of Pro Football Talk were modeled after Pro Football Talk, which has had a partnership with NBC since 2009.

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