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NBCUniversal begins layoffs as it shifts focus toward streaming

Signage for the NBCUniversal Inc. Peacock streaming service is displayed on a laptop computer in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 17, 2020.

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NBCUniversal has begun a round of layoffs as the company grapples with the impact of coronavirus closures and shifts its media strategy. The Comcast subsidiary has 35,000 full-time employees, and reductions are expected to affect less than 10% of that staff.

The layoffs are part of a plan that would see the entertainment segment of the business focus more heavily on streaming operations. Cuts have been made across the company’s portfolio, which includes sports and cable channels, broadcast networks, a movie studio and theme parks. 

Layoffs at its parks are tied to the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the company told CNBC. Cuts at other entertainment divisions are related to the reorganization of the business. 

“It is said that crises tend to accelerate and exacerbate trends that are already happening,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during an earnings call last week. “That is certainly true in the television business, where viewership is rapidly shifting from linear to nonlinear. A few months ago, we combined our television and streaming businesses under Mark Lazarus, which will allow us to more rapidly shift our resources and investment from linear to streaming. Mark is finalizing a new structure that will demonstrate the unique way we intend to manage this business going forward.”

These layoffs have been anticipated for several months and come just after NBCUniversal announced that revenue had declined 25% to $6.1 billion during the second quarter due to theme park closures, the postponement of movie releases and a drop in advertising spend.

—CNBC’s Julia Boorstin contributed to this report. 

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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