Layoffs Coming At Paramount Global But No Details On Staff Cuts In Bob Bakish Memo Outlining 2024 Strategy; CEO Acknowledges M&A Speculation

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said Thursday that the company will continue to reduce its global workforce “to operate as a leaner company and spend less.” But there were no further details in a memo to staff obtained by Deadline following a “Bob Live” town hall this morning.

The company has three main strategic goals going forward: maximizing content, driving streaming profitability, and “further unlocking the power of ONE PARAMOUNT.”

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“As it has over the past few years, this does mean we will continue to reduce our workforce globally,” the memo read. “These decisions are never easy, but are essential on our path to earnings growth.”

A couple of Par Global employees Deadline spoke with today emphasized how drawn-out this whole thing has been. “We’re spending weeks trying to focus on our work with all of this hanging over our heads,” one staffer said.

Read the full memo below.

Deadline reported last weekend that cuts at Paramount were set to impact hundreds of employees across the company. The WSJ in December had pegged the layoffs at about 1,000, leading to a pretty brutal period of waiting for staffers which is ongoing. Deadline heard senior executives had been given reduction targets to hit to cut costs.

There’s been a wave of layoffs across media, entertainment and big tech over the past month. Microsoft said earlier today it’s cutting 1,900 jobs at its game division to reduce overlap after acquiring Activision Blizzard.

Bakish’s memo only touched briefly on M&A as speculation swirls around Paramount with interest, and a reported offer, from David Ellison’s Skydance to acquire Shari Redstone’s stake in National Amusements – her family holding company that controls Paramount Global. Apollo is also said to be interested.

“Amid all this change, it’s no surprise that Paramount remains a topic of speculation. We’re a storied public company in a closely followed industry. But I have always believed the best thing we can do is concentrate on what we can control — execution,” Bakish wrote. Asked by about deal chatter by a staffer directly during his live appearance, Bakish acknowledged rival companies were “kicking tires,” which he called “a testament to the great work” done by the Paramount Global team.” The CEO said the conglom will look at all options.

Bakish was also asked about layoffs during the Town Hall, according to someone on the video meet. He answered the employee by saying that, “In this business, we have to look at all costs,” without getting into specifics.

Below is the full memo.

Team, Earlier today, we dedicated the first Bob Live of 2024 to our strategic focus for the year. Importantly, this vision builds on all this remarkable team accomplished in 2023 — and there’s no question we’ve made incredible progress. Last year, Paramount+ continued to be one of the fastest growing paid streaming services, and Pluto TV was the most widely distributed FAST service in the world.

We had the #1 show on television, five #1 box office debuts and the #1 broadcast network for the last season, to name just a few accomplishments. In these ways and more, we’re unleashing the power of our content, which remains our mission no matter what challenges we face. And we have certainly faced a few. As an industry, we’ve confronted a soft ad market, a volatile macroeconomic environment and two historic strikes just in the last year. All while navigating the ongoing evolution of the streaming business, as industry sentiment and metrics for success continue to shift. And we’ve been on our own journey as a company — to realize the full potential of One Paramount as we transition our business from linear to streaming, and continue fine-tuning how we window and monetize our content.

Amid all this change, it’s no surprise that Paramount remains a topic of speculation. We’re a storied public company in a closely followed industry. But I have always believed the best thing we can do is concentrate on what we can control — execution. Leaning into what’s working, while continually adjusting to current realities.

So what does that mean for us in 2024? Our priority is to drive earnings growth. And we’ll get there by growing our revenue while closely managing costs — a balance that will require every team, division and brand to be aligned. More specifically, we have three key strategies to achieve this:

1. Maximizing CONTENT with the biggest impact. When it comes to mass, popular content, we’ve always punched above our weight. And, for our audiences and partners around the world, it’s become very clear that our Hollywood hits are the biggest draw. So, in 2024, we’re focusing our resources on the most powerful, resonant franchises, films and series that perform across platforms globally. As we refine our content strategy, this means we’ll produce fewer local, international originals for our platforms, apart from our leading free-to-air networks in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the UK, where we will continue to have a strong pipeline of local content. And we’ll continue to maximize our global hits across multiple platforms and revenue streams – including streaming, film, TV and licensing – for the biggest return on our investment.

2. Driving to STREAMING profitability. We’ve learned a lot since we launched Paramount+ nearly three years ago. As we said last quarter, we expect that 2022 was our year of peak investment, so we are a year ahead of schedule on that important metric. Given our continued push to streaming profitability, this year we will lean even further into large markets like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, where we have a strong multiplatform presence, our US studio content resonates best, and where there is the greatest revenue potential. In other important markets across Europe, Latin America and Asia, we will continue our market-by-market strategy and tap into the power of our strong local partnerships, ensuring we’re operating with the best model to drive local scale and viewership, while managing costs. Globally, increasing subscriber engagement and retention across our platforms will also be critical priorities on our path to streaming profitability. So will driving revenue across advertising, subscriptions, and licensing – including through our recently announced Paramount+ branded destinations – while we continue to operate as efficiently as we can and reduce costs.

3. Further unlocking the power of ONE PARAMOUNT. We’ve made a lot of progress on this front, but there’s even more we can do to leverage the collective power of our company. That means continuing to collaborate across teams, time zones and functions on efforts like cross-promotion, innovative partnerships, data and insights and more, to make the most out of our assets and expertise. As always, we will continue to work to strengthen our culture – prioritizing inclusion, employee and leader development, and guiding our teams through change. Our One Paramount mentality will not only drive better results – it will also enable us to operate as a leaner company and spend less. Where possible, we’ll look to expand our shared services model as we streamline operations.

As it has over the past few years, this does mean we will continue to reduce our workforce globally. These decisions are never easy, but are essential on our path to earnings growth. We will continue to be as thoughtful as we can be, communicate when there is information to share and support our teams throughout. If you didn’t get a chance to tune into today’s Bob Live, please do so whenever you can on Vimeo. There’s more information there — and even more to come. Expect to hear updates on our progress against this strategy throughout the year. In many ways, 2024 will be the next great step in our transformation and we must evolve how we work to support that. I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am for your dedication, and how proud I am of all that this team continues to accomplish. In light of all that we’ve achieved together, I have no doubt we are up to the task.

Best, Bob

Anthony D’Alessandro and Dade Hayes contributed to this report.

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