As expected, Casey Bloys’ HBO Max and HBO teams have been laid off.
An estimated 14 percent of Bloys’ teams — an estimated 70 people — have been laid off as part of the workforce reduction following WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery. The moves are the latest step in cost savings for the combined Warner Bros. Discovery under CEO David Zaslav.
As part of the layoffs, Sarah Aubrey will continue to oversee the HBO Max Originals drama series and add international programming in addition to the WBD International division headed by Gerhard Zeiler. However, HBO Max comedy is now overseen by HBO comedy Amy Gravitt, with Max’s Suzanna Makkos reporting directly to the former. Gravitt, a highly regarded HBO veteran with a strong track record, will now oversee the combined comedy department. Joey Chavez, exec vp programming, continues to report to Aubrey as lead for Max Dramas.
International co-productions — like I can destroy you – will now be handled by the drama and comedy groups. With Warners titles already earmarked for HBO Max, there was less need for an acquisition group, especially given the reduced need for third-party titles.
After the reduction of HBO Max non-fiction and live-action family originals, both departments have been hit hard by the layoffs. HBO Max original reality – led by Jennifer O’Connell – as well as casting, international and acquisitions are the four departments most affected, along with business matters and production. The latter two departments are being pruned to eliminate layoffs, part of Zaslav’s plan to find $3 billion in post-merger cost savings. The rest of Bloys’ direct programming remains unchanged.
With Discovery’s influx of unscripted programming, HBO Max had little to no need to continue its focus on originals. Current unscripted HBO Max originals will remain on the platform, with renewal decisions based on performance. Their oversight will shift to Discovery execs in the future.
Additional layoffs in other WBD divisions are expected, but this is it for Bloys’ team. The cuts put an end to weeks of wild speculation about how deep they would be, including suggestions that most of HBO Max’s originals would be jettisoned. That’s not the case though, as Bloys and Aubrey continue to grow a slate with hits And just like that, the sex life of college girls and Gossip Girl.
HBO Max and Discovery+ will be merged into one service next year. Executives are currently debating a new name for the service, as sources say much of the discussion revolves around whether the HBO name will remain part of it or whether a broader name for the service would work better. There are no cancellations as part of Monday’s layoffs. HBO won’t be a tile on whatever the new combined platform is either. Budgets are also unaffected as sources say they will only grow to meet growing prices for content and top talent.