Tech

Layoffs expected as WarnerMedia reorganizes its leadership team after AT&T acquisition

Key Points
  • WarnerMedia is reorganizing and forming a new leadership team under new parent AT&T.
  • The new entertainment and direct-to-consumer unit will combine HBO, TNT, TBS and truTV and be headed by Robert Greenblatt, most recently chairman of NBC Entertainment.
  • The Wall Street Journal says "significant layoffs" are expected as part of the reorganization.
WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey speaks in 2016.
John Lamparski | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

WarnerMedia announced a new organizational model and leadership team Monday in hopes of advancing its content development. The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported that "significant layoffs" are expected as part of the reorganization.

The management shuffle comes days after Richard Plepler announced in an internal memo obtained by CNBC that he would step down from his role as HBO CEO. Plepler was concerned about having less autonomy under its new parent, AT&T, a source familiar with the company's transition told CNBC.

Now, Robert Greenblatt, who was most recently chairman for NBC Entertainment, will lead the Direct-to-Consumer business and chair WarnerMedia Entertainment, which includes HBO, TNT, TBS and truTV.

"This change will provide the company with the agility and flexibility needed to build WarnerMedia's brands across a variety of evolving distribution models with a more coordinated approach to the company's original programming," the company said in the announcement.

CNN chief Jeff Zucker will take on an expanded role as chairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports and president of CNN, the company announced. The news and sports division will include CNN Worldwide (CNN, CNN.com, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, HLN, Great Big Story), Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and the AT&T Regional Sports Networks, according to the release. WarnerMedia said it hopes to capitalize on live coverage and its two main digital properties, CNN.com and Bleacher Report.

Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara will take on new responsibilities including "a new global kids and young adults business," which will combine "the family, kids and animation efforts from across WarnerMedia, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Additionally, Otter Media, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development for WarnerMedia properties will also reside here," according to the release.

Gerhard Zeiler will be promoted from president of Turner International to WarnerMedia Chief Revenue Officer, the company said, where he will oversee the consolidated WarnerMedia Affiliates and Advertising Sales Groups.

Here is the full announcement from WarnerMedia:

WarnerMedia today announced a new organizational model to accelerate the investment in and development of content. WarnerMedia will organize its teams around entertainment networks, live programming, content production and affiliate and advertising sales.

As part of the organizational announcement, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey announced that Robert Greenblatt, who was most recently Chairman for NBC Entertainment, will take on the role as Chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer. Stankey also announced expanded roles for Jeff Zucker, who becomes Chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports, and President, CNN; and for Kevin Tsujihara, who continues as Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. with additional responsibilities including a new global kids and young adults business; and Gerhard Zeiler, who has been elevated from President, Turner International to WarnerMedia Chief Revenue Officer.

"We have done an amazing job establishing our brands as leaders in the hearts and minds of consumers," said Stankey. "Adding Bob Greenblatt to the WarnerMedia family and expanding the leadership scope and responsibilities of Jeff, Kevin and Gerhard – who collectively have more than 80 years of global media experience and success – gives us the right management team to strategically position our leading portfolio of brands, world-class talent and rich library of intellectual property for future growth."

WarnerMedia Entertainment led by Bob Greenblatt will include HBO, the linear cable networks TNT, TBS and truTV, and the Direct-to-Consumer business. This change will provide the company with the agility and flexibility needed to build WarnerMedia's brands across a variety of evolving distribution models with a more coordinated approach to the company's original programming.

WarnerMedia News & Sports will include CNN Worldwide (CNN, CNN.com, CNN International, CNN en Español, HLN, Great Big Story), Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and the AT&T Regional Sports Networks. Jeff Zucker will continue to lead CNN and now run this expanded organization to capitalize on the importance of live news and sports content, as well as helping to build on the strengths of the company's two industry-leading digital properties – CNN.com and Bleacher Report – to benefit consumers and advertisers in their respective market segments.

Warner Bros.' film, television, and games operations will add a new Global Kids & Young Adults business that brings together the family, kids and animation efforts from across WarnerMedia, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Additionally, Otter Media, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development for WarnerMedia properties will also reside here. Kevin Tsujihara will spearhead these efforts and continue to lead Warner Bros. which, under his direction, has become the only studio with premiere positions in television, film and videogames.

The company will consolidate all WarnerMedia Affiliates and Advertising Sales Groups under one unified structure led by Gerhard Zeiler. He will utilize his broad experience in both public and commercial broadcasting sectors across multiple geographies to unite all of the WarnerMedia network affiliate sales and advertising sales businesses to help benefit advertisers, distributors, partners and the company.

Mr. Greenblatt said, "I'm honored to be joining WarnerMedia during such an exciting time for the company and the industry as a whole, and I look forward to working alongside the many talented executives and team members across the company. WarnerMedia is home to some of the world's most innovative, creative and successful brands and we're in a unique position to foster even deeper connections with consumers. And it goes without saying I will always have a soft spot in my heart for HBO going back to the rewarding experience I had producing Alan Ball's Six Feet Under."

Greenblatt is a seasoned television veteran and producer who was most recently Chairman of NBC Entertainment where he helped to transform NBC into the highest-rated, most-watched, and most-awarded broadcast network with hit programming like This Is Us, The Good Place, the Chicago trilogy, The Voice, and a series of live musicals and events. He has strong relationships with talent and deep experience on both the production and programming sides of the business for network and cable television, giving him a unique understanding of running and developing a content business. His career began at the Fox network where he delivered iconic shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Party of Five, The X-Files, Ally McBeal and King of the Hill. He then rebranded Showtime for the modern era with signature series such as Weeds, Dexter, The Tudors, Nurse Jackie, and Shameless. As a respected and award-winning producer he was awarded the Golden Globe and Peabody awards for HBO's classic series Six Feet Under; and he has two Tony awards for his work on Broadway.

Disclosure: NBC Entertainment and CNBC are divisions of NBCUniversal.

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AT&T to restructure WarnerMedia