The Disney/ABC Television Group, in an effort to reach a 10% reduction in costs, will cut up to 300 jobs, reports the Wall St. Journal’s premier media reporter, Joe Flint, in a major scoop. [Note: the WSJ is behind a paywall and will likely charge you to read its story.]
Writes Flint, “The bulk of the cuts are expected to take place at the ABC broadcast network, its television production studios, ABC News and local television stations. Cable networks Disney Channel and Freeform will also likely see their workforces reduced as well…”
Variety, in its free follow-up to Flint’s scoop, writes, “it’s clear that the effort will involve major staff cuts in order to reach the 10% cost reduction target.”
Variety continues, “The cuts are expected to hit ABC and Disney Channel hardest as they have the most extensive overhead. Both networks are also struggling with ratings declines, heightened competition and changing viewing habits. Disney-ABC TV Group is said to have been given a mandate to modernize operations. There’s been some noticeable departures of high-level executives in recent months who haven’t been replaced, suggesting that Disney-ABC has been eying cuts through attrition, including Ben Pyne, former distribution chief, and longtime ABC business affairs chief Jana Winograde.”
Variety notes that “The cost-cutting would not affect ESPN, which has suffered its own recent troubles but falls outside of the Disney-ABC group. While all the major U.S. broadcast networks have struggled with ratings declines in recent years as competition for viewers within and outside the traditional TV ecosystem increases, ABC has lagged behind competitors CBS and NBC. It is also the only one of the Big Four broadcasters unbuoyed by a television contract with the National Football League in an era where live pro football is the biggest driver of same-day ratings.”
Writes Bloomberg in its follow-up story, “Disney’s networks, the source of almost half the company’s profit in fiscal 2016, have lost viewers and subscribers to online options such as Netflix, YouTube and [Snapchat]. In the most recent TV season, ABC finished last among the big four broadcast networks with the 18-to-49-year-old demographic group favored by advertisers. Ratings fell about 11 percent from a year earlier, according to Nielsen data.”
TV group president Ben Sherwood “is expected to present a plan for cuts to Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger in the coming weeks,” Bloomberg says, citing the WSJ story.
ABC’s TV group employees between 9,000 and 10,000 people, according to various media accounts.
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