Paramount Global, amid a swirl of M&A discussions, is laying off about 800 employees worldwide — an estimated 3% of its headcount — as it looks to trim costs.
CEO Bob Bakish announced the layoffs in a memo Tuesday to staff that was obtained by Variety. According to the memo, U.S. employees being laid off will be informed by the close of business Tuesday; international staff members will be notified “over time in line with our local legal obligations in each of the countries where we operate.”
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Bakish’s memo did not specify how many employees of the company are being let go. But sources confirmed about 800 are getting cut across all divisions of the company, including at CBS, Paramount Pictures, Paramount+, Pluto TV, Showtime and cable networks including BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and MTV.
In the memo, Bakish touted the company’s “blockbuster” Super Bowl LVIII this Sunday — the most-watched telecast in history — which “showcased the full power of Paramount.” The CEO also cited a “big slate of new and returning primetime programming on CBS” and gave a shout-out to Jon Stewart’s return to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” on Monday (on a weekly basis).
“I am confident this is the right decision for our future,” Bakish wrote in the memo. “These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead – and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about.”
As of the end of 2022, Paramount Global reported 24,500 full-time employees. The company is scheduled to release fourth-quarter 2023 earnings Feb. 28 after the market closes.
Paramount Global’s cutbacks at the company come as it has been the target of potential M&A scenarios. Skydance Media CEO David Ellison has been in talks with Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements Inc., owns a controlling stake in Paramount Global, about buying NAI. And last month Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group made an unsolicited $30 billion acquisition offer to acquire Paramount Global, though it’s unclear who his financial partners are. Bakish and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav in December briefly discussed the idea of merging WBD and Paramount Global, but that hasn’t gone anywhere.
For the third quarter of 2023, Paramount Global’s revenue rose 3% thanks to its growth in its streaming and film businesses — but revenue in its largest division, linear TV, fell 8% as sales of traditional television advertising continued to contract (declining 14% in the quarter).
Read Bakish’s memo to Paramount Global employees:
As we shared at Bob Live in January, returning our company to earnings growth is a top priority in 2024. This will require us to continue to grow revenue, while reducing costs. And unfortunately, part of streamlining costs means that today, we will begin the difficult process of saying goodbye to some of our very valued colleagues across Paramount.
We will be notifying impacted employees who are based in the U.S. by the close of business today. We’ll share details directly regarding next steps and will do all we can to support you during this time of transition.
There will also be impacts in some of our offices based outside the U.S. Those notifications will occur over time in line with our local legal obligations in each of the countries where we operate.
To those with whom we are parting ways, we are incredibly grateful for your hard work and dedication. Your talents have helped us advance our mission of unleashing the power of content around the world. We are a better company because of you.
While I realize these changes are in no way easy, as I said last month, I am confident this is the right decision for our future. These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead – and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about.
We are coming off of a blockbuster event with Super Bowl LVIII that showcased the full power of Paramount. We’re launching a big slate of new and returning primetime programming on CBS, and last night marked the return of Jon Stewart to The Daily Show. We continue to release films, like Bob Marley: One Love this week, which reinforce our heritage as one of Hollywood’s most iconic movie studios. And we’re coming together as One Paramount more than ever, with continued commitment to our values, culture imperatives and fostering an inclusive workplace.
We should all take time this week to support one another – our colleagues who will be impacted, as well as our teams remaining – in adjusting to this change. Speaking personally, I want our entire team to know that I am committed to sharing updates when we’re able to.
As always, I am continually grateful for your commitment to our company. And I’m confident we will navigate this transition and emerge stronger than ever.
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