Layoffs hit HBO Max: Casey Bloys reshuffles leadership structure

Layoffs hit HBO Max: Casey Bloys reshuffles leadership structure

As expected, layoffs have hit Casey Bloys’ HBO Max and HBO teams.

An estimated 14 percent of Bloys’ teams — an estimated 70 people — were laid off as part of the downsizing following WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery. The moves are the latest cost-cutting move 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 roster, adding international programming alongside the WBD international division led by Gerhard Zeiler. However, HBO Max comedy will now come under the oversight of HBO comedy head Amy Gravitt, with Max’s Suzanna Makkos reporting directly to the former. Gravitt, a respected HBO veteran with a strong track record, will now head up the combined comedy division. Joey Chavez, Executive Vice President Programming, will continue to report to Aubrey as lead for Max Dramas.

International co-productions – like I May Destroy You – are now overseen by the drama and comedy groups. With Warners titles already slated for HBO Max, there was less need for an acquisition group, especially given the reduced need for third-party titles.

Following HBO Max’s reductions in non-fiction and live-action family originals, both divisions have been hit hard by the layoffs. HBO Max’s original reality – led by Jennifer O’Connell – along with Casting, International and Acquisitions are the four departments hardest hit, along with Business Affairs and Production. The latter two divisions will be downsized to eliminate layoffs, part of Zaslav’s plan to achieve $3 billion in post-merger cost savings. The rest of Bloys’ direct reports remain unchanged.

With the influx of unscripted programs from Discovery, HBO Max has had little if any need to continue to focus on originals. Current unscripted HBO Max originals will remain on the platform, with renewal decisions based on performance. Going forward, their oversight will shift to Discovery executives.

More layoffs in other WBD divisions are expected, but that’s it for Bloys’ team. The cuts end 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, however, as Bloys and Aubrey continue to build a roster that includes hits like And Just Like That, The Sex Lives 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 is 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 also won’t be a tile on the new combined platform. Budgets will not be affected either, as sources say they will only grow to cover rising prices for content and top talent.