Paramount CEO Bob Bakish Announces Layoffs After Record Super Bowl Night

Paramount is cutting about 3 percent of its global staff as CEO Bob Bakish carries out his 2024 turnaround plans.

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish
Bob Bakish began his cost cutting measures for the year with a new round of layoffs. Jason Mendez/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Paramount (PARA) Global CEO Bob Bakish has some not-so-great news for his employees after a record-breaking Super Bowl night. In a memo today (Feb. 13), Bakish said Paramount is looking to make cuts across its U.S. and international operations. The move will affect about 800 employees, or 3 percent of the company’s total staff, multiple outlets reported. The news came just two days after Paramount’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII brought in 123 million views, making it the most-watched telecast in U.S. history. 

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“While I realize these changes are in no way easy, as I said last month, I am confident this is the right decision for our future,” Bakish said in his memo. “These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead—and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about.”

In a separate memo in January, Bakish outlined Paramount’s many objectives in 2024, suggesting more layoffs as a continuation of headcount cuts implemented in recent years. Paramount’s last round of layoffs took place in May 2023 when 25 percent of its U.S. staff in Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks were let go.

Layoffs are only one part of Bakish’s strategy to save Paramount, which has about $15 billion in debt. The CEO said in his January letter that maximizing content (potentially through content spending), a focus on streaming profitability, and finding ways to unify the conglomerate’s different sectors are his main focuses in 2024. Many industry observers are also expecting a sale of Paramount. Though Bakish has only vaguely acknowledged the speculation, multiple prospective buyers have surfaced, including Skydance Media’s David Ellison, Entertainment Studios’ Byron Allen and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD)’s David Zaslav are circling. 

An analyst who spoke to Observer last December noted that an acquisition may not solve the primary issues of the company anyways, and more job cuts will likely follow. Paramount may have “a lot to be excited about,” according to Bakish, but the outlook for its staffers, and Big Media employees in general is uncertain as these companies shift focus to streaming profitability, said Brandon Katz, an entertainment industry analyst for Parrot Analytics. The Walt Disney Company (DIS) is reportedly looking to lay off up to 20 percent of its Pixar staff this year. Amazon (AMZN) also laid off “several hundred” workers in its Prime Video and MGM Studios divisions. 

Below is Bakish’s full memo today.

Team, 

As we shared at Bob Live in January, returning our company to earnings growth is a top priority in 2024. This will require us to continue to grow revenue, while reducing costs. And unfortunately, part of streamlining costs means that today, we will begin the difficult process of saying goodbye to some of our very valued colleagues across Paramount. We will be notifying impacted employees who are based in the U.S. by the close of business today. We’ll share details directly regarding next steps and will do all we can to support you during this time of transition.

There will also be impacts in some of our offices based outside the U.S. Those notifications will occur over time in line with our local legal obligations in each of the countries where we operate. To those with whom we are parting ways, we are incredibly grateful for your hard work and dedication. Your talents have helped us advance our mission of unleashing the power of content around the world. We are a better company because of you. While I realize these changes are in no way easy, as I said last month, I am confident this is the right decision for our future. These adjustments will help enable us to build on our momentum and execute our strategic vision for the year ahead – and I firmly believe we have much to be excited about.

We are coming off of a blockbuster event with Super Bowl LVIII that showcased the full power of Paramount. We’re launching a big slate of new and returning primetime programming on CBS, and last night marked the return of Jon Stewart to The Daily Show. We continue to release films, like Bob Marley: One Love this week, which reinforce our heritage as one of Hollywood’s most iconic movie studios. And we’re coming together as One Paramount more than ever, with continued commitment to our values, culture imperatives and fostering an inclusive workplace.

We should all take time this week to support one another – our colleagues who will be impacted, as well as our teams remaining – in adjusting to this change. Speaking personally, I want our entire team to know that I am committed to sharing updates when we’re able to. As always, I am continually grateful for your commitment to our company. And I’m confident we will navigate this transition and emerge stronger than ever.

Best,

Bob

 

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish Announces Layoffs After Record Super Bowl Night