Layoffs are underway at HBO’s public relations department, TheWrap has learned.
The Warner Bros. Discovery brand is facing new cuts to its communications and PR teams, with several veteran staffers and execs impacted by the cost-cutting measures, according to two knowledgeable insiders. Layoffs among the legal and production division also landed earlier this week, an insider with knowledge of HBO told TheWrap.
While the exact number of layoffs was not known, the insiders said the cuts “decimated” the corporate PR team, which is well known for a veteran staff that has been successively eliminated or exited in the past year.
On Tuesday, the entertainment giant announced the departure of streaming communications SVP Chris Willard, who exited the company after 14 years to pursue other interests. During his tenure working primarily with the HBO team, Willard shepherded the communications strategy for both Max and Discovery+ and recently oversaw the PR associated with the launch of rebranded streaming platform Max.
The insider said that the cuts hollowed out the institutional knowledge of one of the most respected PR departments in Hollywood, after many rounds of layoffs in recent years.
A representative for Warner Bros. Discovery did not respond to multiple requests for confirmation by TheWrap.
The layoffs are the latest in an ongoing rolling series of brutal cuts to the Warner conglomerate after the April 2022 merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery. The merger prompted a restructuring within the company that laid off 70 HBO Max employees ahead of the company’s combining of HBO Max and Discovery+.
At the time, the roughly 14% cut down of staffers under HBO CEO Casey Bloys hit HBO Max’s unscripted spaces the hardest. Among the four departments eliminated were HBO Max Originals Nonfiction and Live Action, International Originals, Casting and Content Acquisitions.
Ahead of the May 23 launch of Max, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the company expects its streaming business in the U.S. to reach profitability in 2023, advancing previous guidance that anticipated the company would hit the milestone a year later.
Elsewhere at Warner Bros. Discovery, layoffs were expected to hit the cable news division this summer. Headed up by U.S. Networks Chairman and Chief Content Officer Kathleen Finch, the cable networks operated by Warner Bros. Discovery include Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Science Channel, Animal Planet, former Scripps networks Food Network and HGTV, as well as Turner-branded networks such as TNT, TBS and truTV.