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The other shoe has dropped at NBCUniversal.
The expected layoffs in Susan Rovner’s Entertainment Content Division have begun. Sources say 50 employees were let go Tuesday from Rovner’s newly consolidated team. The merged programming team was the hardest hit with Tuesday’s layoffs. Other divisions, including scheduling and acquisitions, were also impacted.
The moves come after Rovner’s senior leaders of scripted, unscripted and late night solidified their respective teams. Cara Dellaverson and Alex Sepiol (who headed drama for Peacock under former head of originals Bill McGoldrick) will co-lead drama and current development under head of scripted Lisa Katz. Jeff Meyerson will oversee comedy current and development, with Michael Sluchan overseeing kids programming and co-productions, with both also reporting to Katz. Jenny Groom’s unscripted competition/game show unit will include Sharon Vuong overseeing development and Shelby Shaftel leading current. Rod Aissa’s lifestyle and docuseries group will see Rachel Smith running development and Shari Levine overseeing current.
The majority of those impacted Tuesday were from jobs that were reduced when NBCUniversal merged business and content teams from a network-by-network grouping into one unified group. That means execs who previously oversaw scripted for NBC are also covering Peacock and all of the company’s cable brands.
Tuesday’s layoffs mirror similar staff reductions that came in November that were part of Frances Berwick’s business division. Both rounds of layoffs are the direct result of NBCU’s decision to consolidate its entertainment content and business divisions under Rovner and Berwick, respectively. The massive reorganization at NBCUniversal’s TV and Streaming division, overseen by NBCUni CEO Jeff Shell and streaming and TV chairman Mark Lazarus, consolidated staff from across the TV and streaming space into two units overseen by Berwick and Rovner. Berwick oversees entertainment business strategy, which encompasses marketing, research, acquisitions, finance and publicity. Rovner is charged with all entertainment content, which includes scripted, unscripted, live events, late night and syndication.
Both Berwick and Rovner’s teams each oversee responsibilities for a consolidated portfolio, meaning an executive working on reality programming at E!, for example, will now do so for NBC, streamer Peacock, Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy and USA Network.
Berwick, the former Lifestyle Networks chief, was promoted Aug. 6 as part of a major restructuring at NBCU. She announced her leadership team Sept. 16, with November’s layoffs affecting redundancies in areas under her purview, including marketing, PR and so on. Sources note that any open positions will not be filled, which helped reduce the bloodshed.
Rovner, meanwhile, started at NBCUni in October. In the time since, she has met with executives across her portfolio. She unveiled her leadership team in November, opting to promote from within the company as she built a team to oversee scripted, unscripted and other programming areas for Peacock, NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, E! and Universal Kids.
Tuesday’s layoffs were triggered after division leaders under Rovner have already solidified their respective teams. The reductions targeted redundancies across merged departments that were eliminated in favor of centralized content teams.
NBCUniversal has seen a number of high-profile executives leave in the wake of last year’s reorganization. NBC entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy and his top unscripted exec, Meredith Ahr, were both pushed out after an investigation at company found that they fostered a toxic culture, allegations of which were first detailed by The Hollywood Reporter.
Beloved USA and Syfy president Chris McCumber exited in September as a result of the restructuring that eliminated the need for individual network leaders. Respected Peacock, USA and Syfy programming head Bill McGoldrick departed this week after he was passed over for the role that eventually went to Rovner. Longtime NBC marketing chief Len Fogge also departed after more than a decade at the company after his role was absorbed by NBC Sports Group CMO Jennifer Storms.
The layoffs under Berwick’s team are the latest in a wave of cutbacks at NBCU. The company’s theme park unit, sports division and Telemundo underwent layoffs earlier this year as a result of the company’s economic downturn prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic, which has caused massive revenue hits across the entertainment industry, has prompted most major conglomerates to restructure. NBCUniversal, Disney and WarnerMedia have all reshaped their executive ranks in a bid to both better position themselves for the streaming era as well as cut costs by consolidating resources and eliminating staffing redundancies. All three media titans have had multiple rounds of layoffs, with more on the way as Disney has only recently begun its reorganization.
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