LOS ANGELES: Walt Disney Co. is reported to be drawing up plans for a series of layoffs at its Disney-ABC Television Group as it seeks to cut the unit’s annual costs by 10%.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, which was informed by “people familiar with the matter”, it is expected that as many as 300 jobs could be cut from its current workforce of 10,000 staff.
These job cuts would affect employees at the ABC broadcast network, its television production studio, ABC News and local television stations, the sources revealed, while adding that cable networks Disney Channel and Freeform are likely to see jobs cuts too.
The cuts may begin as soon as the end of September, the close of Disney’s current fiscal year, and are said to be driven by Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney-ABC TV Group, who is expected to present Disney CEO Robert Iger with details “in the coming weeks”.
Meanwhile, Variety contacted its own sources, who said the number of job cuts have not been fixed yet, but it’s clear the initiative will involve major staff cuts in order to hit the company’s 10% cost-cutting target.
The sources said the restructuring will target “areas that have become outmoded or less vital to the management of the channels, such as traditional sales and distribution, and aspects of marketing operations for ABC and the cable channels”.
They added that Disney is looking to streamline and modernise in some areas so it can free up resources for the development of content.
As industry observers have recognised for some time, traditional broadcasters and cable networks have suffered declining ratings as new streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, have attracted more viewers with their original content.
The development also comes as the Wall Street Journal noted that the Disney Channel and Freeform have seen declines in ratings at the same time that ABC has been lagging behind its major rivals, CBS and NBC.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Variety; additional content by WARC staff