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Turner Sports Parent Warner Bros. Discovery Planning Big Layoffs

  • By year's end, sports/entertainment company expected to eliminate roughly 30% of combined advertising sale force.
  • Cuts will be the newest cost-control measure rolled out since WarnerMedia and Discovery merger closed in June.
Turner Sports
Courtesy Turner Sports

Staffers and executives at Warner Bros. Discovery are bracing for a major wave of layoffs expected to kick off this week, sources with knowledge of the situation told Front Office Sports. 

The cutbacks are expected to eventually eliminate roughly 30% of the company’s combined advertising sales force between now and the end of the year, said sources. That could impact former Turner Sports ad sales executives who now operate under the corporate umbrella.  

Warner Bros. Discovery combined ad sales for its various units under chief revenue officer Jon Steinlauf earlier this year. Previously, Turner and other companies fielded their own ad sales teams.

While the cutbacks will largely focus on ad sales, other departments could be impacted, said sources. Chief executive officer David Zaslav has been public about seeking $3 billion in savings since the $43 billion merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery closed in June. 

“This is part of their broader cost-cutting,” one source said. “It’s what they promised Wall Street. With Zaslav looking for $3 billion in cuts, they will try to find it everywhere.”

During the recent upfront selling season on Madison Avenue, Warner Bros. Discovery sold its content under a single advertising umbrella.

The consolidation of ad sales for Turner Sports — which includes Bleacher Report and House of Highlights — had been discussed going back years, according to one source. Turner Sports also manages NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA mobile app, and NBA League Pass. 

Previously,  CNN shuttered CNN+ streaming service only a month after launch. It also canceled its long-running “Reliable Sources” show, with host Brian Stelter leaving the network.

Other media giants have also combined ad sales into one entity. Back in 2018, the Walt Disney Co. combined ABC and ESPN ad sales under president of ad sales Rita Ferro.

The Information first reported in June that the merged Warner Bros. Discovery would eliminate up to 30% of its advertising sales force. On Friday, Business Insider reported staffers were bracing for layoffs. Axios relayed they would begin on Tuesday.

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