KEY POINTS

  • HBO pay TV is being deemphasized in favor of HBO Max streaming media in a new WarnerMedia restructuring
  • At least 800 Warner Bros and HBO employees will lose their jobs as a result of the move
  • New CEO Jason Kilar claims streaming and COVID-19 demands the company "act boldly and with urgency"

New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has announced a new strategy that will result in at least 800 employees in the Warner Bros. and HBO divisions lose their jobs.

Kilar announced a major mangement restructuring in moves designed to ensure growth amid the immense industry disruption caused by COVID-19.

Kilar, who joined WarnerMedia on May 1, also announced the departure of three top executives in the reshuffle that de-emphasizes pay TV under HBO in favor of the HBO Max video-on-demand streaming platform. HBO Max launched May 27.

The restructuring will see WarnerMedia release at least 800 employees at its Warner Bros. and HBO pay TV operations, which are the hardest hit by Kilar's move towards streaming. Some 650 Warner Bros. employees are expected to be fired Monday. HBO will let go of approximately 150 to 175 people.

Kilar announced the reorientation of the business towards streaming and the reshuffle in an email to employees over the weekend. Kilar was previously CEO of Hulu, the Over-the-top (OTT) streaming media joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal.

Kilar justified WarnerMedia's wholesale shift towards streaming media by saying the company faces "one of the greatest opportunities in the history of media" where it can deliver its content directly to hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide.

Kilar said WarnerMedia's future success in streaming in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic demands the company "change how we are organized, that we simplify, and that we act boldly and with urgency."

His roadmap to the future sees the primacy of HBO Max while expanding its scope worldwide. WarnerMedia will also establish a consolidated international unit focused on scale and efficiency, and will simplify the way it organizes studios as a consequence.

Kilar also announced the departure of three former top executives: WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer Chairman Bob Greenblatt, content chief and TBS, TNT and TruTV president Kevin Reilly and Keith Cocozza, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications. More structural changes are on the way, possibly including more layoffs.

Kilar's memo said Andy Forssell, HBO Max general manager, will now lead a newly created HBO Max operating business unit. Forsell's team will be responsible for the marketing, consumer engagement and global rollout of HBO Max.

Ann Sarnoff, Warner Bros. chair and CEO, will lead the newly created Studios and Networks Group. This group will oversee all WarnerMedia TV series and motion picture development, production and programming.

Casey Bloys, president of HBO Programming, will also be responsible for original content through HBO original programming.

Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler will lead a newly integrated international group consisting of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Networks.

Tony Goncalves, a key leader at HBO Max, will lead the new commercial unit combining the U.S. advertising sales and distribution groups with home entertainment and content licensing.

Christy Haubegger, Chief Enterprise Inclusion Officer, will also oversee the global marketing and communications team.

 

HBO Max HBO Max launches May 27, 2020. Some existing HBO customers will get the streaming service for free. Photo: WarnerMedia/HBO Max