Media layoffs spike amid recession fears
The media industry is getting hit by sizable rounds of layoffs and cost-cutting measures as the ad market continues to show signs of a serious slowdown.
Why it matters: For many companies, the challenges are similar to the early onset of the pandemic. But now, fewer government relief programs and resources from Big Tech firms are available to help.
- An unprecedented number of media layoffs occurred in 2020. But last year, job losses were at their lowest since 2008.
- More than 3,000 jobs have been cut through October this year, per data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas — and more are coming.
Driving the news: Nearly all of the major entertainment giants are bracing for sweeping layoffs in the next few weeks. Many of those firms have invested enormously in new streaming products that aren't profitable yet.
- Warner Bros. Discovery has continued to lay off staffers, in part to alleviate the debt created by the merger that created the new firm earlier this year. CNN chief Chris Licht warned employees last week that the network would see more layoffs beginning next month, sources told Axios.
- Paramount Global, the parent to CBS, MTV, VH1 and a slew of other networks and streaming services, began to cut jobs last week, mostly in ad sales, per Deadline.
- The Walt Disney Company last week announced layoffs, a hiring freeze and other cost-cutting measures, as the company continues to struggle with rising streaming costs.
- Comcast's cable unit made cuts last month. Its entertainment arm, NBCUniversal, is also expecting layoffs, per Puck.
- Roku said last week it plans to cut around 200 jobs, representing roughly 5% of its workforce.
Between the lines: Digital upstarts are particularly vulnerable to ad slowdowns, because contracts for digital ads are typically much easier to pull at the last minute than contracts for television ads.
- Protocol, the tech news website launched from Politico in 2020, will shut down by the end of the year, according to a company-wide memo obtained by Axios. Around 60 employees will be laid off.
- Morning Brew, a business media company that caters to Millennials, plans to lay off 14% of its staff due to advertiser uncertainty, per a memo sent from its CEO to staff last week.
- Outside Media, the media company home to dozens of outdoor enthusiast brands, lid off 12% of its staff last week, following a 15% cut in May, per Adweek.
- Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubac told staff it plans to cut costs by "up to 15%" following smaller cuts earlier this month.
- Recurrent Ventures, a venture equity-backed digital media rollup company, laid off 52 staffers in October.
What we're watching: Experts are particularly concerned about what a possible recession could mean for the newspaper industry, which is facing higher distribution and labor costs in the wake of the pandemic.
- Gannett, the parent company to USA Today, last week said it was planning another round of layoffs, in addition to furloughs, after laying off 400 people in August.
Go deeper: Bad winter coming for U.S. media companies
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to remove a mistaken reference to a Wall Street Journal story about NBCUniversal layoffs in 2020.