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Already considering cutting primetime programming in the 10 p.m. hour, NBCUniversal is now mulling early retirement offers for veteran staffers age 57 and older.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that while no formal offers have gone out, the conglomerate is looking to save costs by offering buyout packages to select employees across the entire company who have worked there for 10 or more years and who are age 57 and older.
The voluntary early retirement offers are poised to be sent out to eligible employees next week and are considered another way to cut costs and potentially avoid or minimize additional layoffs at the company as linear ratings continue to slide and streamer Peacock has effectively been a nonstarter. Sources say 2 percent of the company’s 74,000 staffers across film, TV, theme parks and other divisions are being considered for such an offer.
According to a source, NBCU is offering a generous 12 to 18 months of pay and, depending on if employees have restricted stock units, the company will vest.
NBCUniversal declined to comment on the matter.
Peacock reported subscribers stalled during the second quarter at 13 million, flat with Q1. Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal CEO, told CNBC this week that subscribers to the streaming service have since grown to 15 million. That still pales in comparison to Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+ and other streamers including Netflix, Apple and Amazon.
As previously reported, NBCUniversal is already considering cutting an hour of primetime programming and has discussed turning the 10 p.m. slot back over to affiliates. The move would reduce NBC’s primetime programming by seven hours a week. Such a measure would help save millions in programming costs while also pleasing affiliates and getting The Tonight Show on the air a tad earlier. (For his part, former NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt said cutting the 10 p.m. hour of originals was a conversation that execs had “every 18 months” when he was running the network.)
In addition to weathering the financial impact of the pandemic with the closure of movie theaters and theme parks, NBCUniversal has already been through multiple rounds of layoffs over the past few years as it restructured its executive ranks to prioritize streamer Peacock. In 2020, for example, NBCUniversal tapped company veteran Frances Berwick and Warner Bros. TV’s Susan Rovner to jointly oversee a content group that includes NBC, Peacock and a suite of cable networks including Bravo and USA Network. Layoffs followed across Berwick’s business and Rovner’s entertainment portfolios as multiple divisions were merged across both. Warner Bros. Discovery is currently doing the same as it integrates the two companies following its merger.
It’s worth noting that Peacock, which launched during the pandemic alongside competitors like HBO Max and Apple TV+, continues to search for a big, broad hit that would serve as its version of Ted Lasso or And Just Like That. The streamer’s big swings have included a dramatic reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which recently announced that it would be bringing in its fourth showrunner ahead of its second season.
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