Paramount starts layoffs impacting hundreds of jobs

On the heels of record Super Bowl viewership on CBS over the weekend, Paramount Global has reportedly started a round of layoffs impacting hundreds of employees.

News of potentially hundreds of job cuts looming at Paramount that were likely coming in February was previously reported in January by Deadline. On Tuesday, multiple outlets, including The New York Times reported on an internal memo sent that day by Paramount CEO Bob Bakish to staff informing them of layoffs, including in the U.S. and internationally. The memo, republished by Variety, didn’t state the number of impacted employees but said the move was part of an effort for “streamlining costs” while noting “returning our company to earnings growth is a top priority in 2024.” According to multiple outlets citing unnamed sources, the cuts are impacting around 800 employees. As of the end of 2022 Paramount Global had around 24,500 full-time and part-time employees across 37 countries, as well as approximately 5,800 project-based staff.

Variety reported that cuts span multiple divisions, including CBS, Paramount Pictures, Paramount+, Pluto TV, Showtime and cable networks like Nickelodeon and MTV, among others.

Paramount did not immediately respond to inquiry from StreamTV Insider about the job cuts.

The memo comes after Paramount marked a majorly successful weekend with its broadcast of the NFL’s Super Bowl LVIII on CBS, alongside simulcasts on Nickelodeon, Univision and Paramount+. According to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics figures, including simulcasts on the digital platforms, an average of 123.7 million viewers tuned in to watch Sunday’s championship, where the Kansas City Chiefs beat out the San Francisco 49ers in a 25-22 victory in overtime. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it marks the largest audience draw in U.S. TV history as measured by Nielsen.

Although the Super Bowl marked success, Paramount in general has been working to build its streaming operations into a profitable business and in recent months has been cited as a target for potential M&A, including a bid from entertainment entrepreneur Byron Allen and reported conversations in December with the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery. Reports also pegged Paramount as interested in selling certain assets such as BET.

Paramount in the third quarter of 2023 reported revenue growth and narrowed losses for its direct-to-consumer streaming business, but still counted an Adjusted OBIDA direct-to-consumer segment loss of $238 million in the period. In its TV media business, advertising and licensing declined in Q3, which droves TV unit revenue down 8% year over year to $4.56 billion, with segment adjusted OBIDA declining $82 million or 7% year over year to $1.1 billion. Paramount reports Q4 and full year 2023 earnings on February 28.