Warner Bros. Discovery to slash up to 30% of ad sales team – report

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) plans to slash its global sales team by as much as 30%, starting with buyout offers this week for some people within its U.S. advertising sales force, according to The Information.

WBD is undertaking a larger cost-cutting effort to achieve $3 billion in annual cost savings after the $43 billion merger of Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia. The buyouts giving employees a chance to voluntarily leave the company, which were disclosed to The Information by sources familiar with the matter, reflect the first major cost-cutting step since Discovery and WarnerMedia officially merged into the combined company in April.

The report noted that plans to cut 30% of WBD’s approximately 3,000 global ad sales force suggests it wants to reduce headcount by nearly 1,000 jobs over time, according to the sources which told The Information that would happen through layoffs and natural attrition, along with the buyouts. Warner Bros. Discovery already put a hiring freeze in place for ad sales, according to the report. 

During first quarter earnings results, Warner Bros Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said that while it was still early in the integration process and beginning stages of synergy and strategic financial planning “we feel more confident than ever about achieving our $3 billion cost synergy target, and believe there is a much greater opportunity off of the current baseline and that target will ultimately prove conservative.”

The Information pointed out that WBD CEO David Zaslav has said the company’s ad sales segment presents an opportunity for cuts due to a lot of overlap in roles post-merger.

Joining forces, the combined Warner Bros. Discovery brings together media assets such as HBO, popular networks like HGTV, TNT, Food Network, and live sports as well as cable news with CNN (though the short-lived CNN+ streaming service got axed shortly after the merger).

Post-merger, WBD had about 100 million paid direct-to-consumers subscribers across its streaming services, including Discovery+ and HBO Max.

Netflix recently began job cuts, laying off around 150 employees who were mostly U.S.-based.