WarnerMedia Laying Off Hundreds, Restructuring Amid Down Quarter

    • Without the NBA season, Turner revenue was down 12.4% year over year.
    • Peter Nelson, head of HBO sports, is reportedly leaving the company.

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WarnerMedia is laying off 600 employees this week, with about a quarter of them coming from HBO, according to The Los Angeles Times. The moves come as parent company AT&T reported a down second quarter largely due to the COVID-10 pandemic. 

For Turner, revenue was $3.0 billion, down 12.4% year over year due to a decrease in advertising and subscription revenues. Advertising primarily declined due to the suspension of the NBA season, which had a “significant unfavorable impact” on Turner’s domestic entertainment networks and contributed to lower audience delivery as well as lower overall domestic and international demand, it said. 

HBO’s revenue was $1.6 billion, down 5.2% year over year. Subscription revenue declined due to lower domestic linear subscribers, the company said, which was partially offset by growth in digital subscribers and international revenue – primarily due to the May 2020 acquisition of the remaining interest in HBO Latin America Group. Operating expenses, however, were $1.5 billion, up 32.5% year over year primarily due to higher programming costs and expenses related to the launch of HBO Max in May.

HBO Max, which the company said would provide a much-needed boost, has not performed as well as expected. While 26 million HBO subscribers have access to HBO Max, the service had notched only 4.1 million subscribers by the end of June, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

AT&T had 243,350 total employees as of the earnings report. 

Last week, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar – who joined the company in May – axed two prominent figures in the company as he looks to consolidate operations: chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment Bob Greenblatt and HBO Max chief content officer and president of TNT, TBS, and truTV Kevin Reilly. 

On Monday, multiple reports surfaced that indicated Peter Nelson, head of HBO Sports, is leaving the company “on his own terms.” Nelson was integral in growing the division’s boxing footprint, but also infamously made the decision to cut it in 2018. 

HBO Sports still has two major linchpins in “Real Sports,” and the “Hard Knocks” franchise, which was recently extended for multiple years. Nelson also oversaw the talk show “The Shop,” from LeBron James, and executive produced “Being Serena,” the five-part documentary about Serena Williams’ personal and professional life. 

Nelson made headlines earlier this year due to his relationship with former Barstool Sports podcaster Sofia Franklyn, who allegedly left the company at Nelson’s encouragement.