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Disney finishes laying off 7,000 workers, more planned

The company laid off more than 3 percent of its global workforce between March and May, mostly in its entertainment and media divisions.

The company laid off more than 3 percent of its global workforce between March and May, mostly in its entertainment and media divisions.

A television studio used by Disney-owned ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco. (Photo via Google Maps, Graphic by The Desk)
A television studio used by Disney-owned ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco. The company’s media and entertainment division, including its local broadcast outlets, were affected by massive layoffs between March and May 2023. (Photo via Google Maps, Graphic by The Desk)

The Walt Disney Company has finished its three rounds of layoffs that saw more than 7,000 workers lose their jobs, according to a report published on Thursday.

Citing unnamed sources, entertainment publication Variety said the last of the pink slips were issued around the Memorial Day holiday, completing a three-phase headcount restructuring that was laid out by Disney’s core executives in February.

The majority of the job losses were concentrated within Disney’s media and entertainment divisions, including ABC, ESPN, ABC News, Disney Plus and Walt Disney Pictures. Disney’s theme parks were largely unaffected.

Additional layoffs are expected in the coming weeks that will primarily impact media and entertainment roles at Disney’s overseas businesses, though the precise number of affected workers was not immediately available.

Disney began laying off workers in March as it sought to curb excess spending while addressing revenue shortfalls. Over the last few years, Disney has spent tens of billions of dollars building up its direct-to-consumer streaming service Disney Plus as the company hedged its future on a shift away from broadcast and cable television toward streaming.

The streaming service has yet to turn a profit, with Disney reporting a $659 million loss attributed to Disney Plus and its other online video services during its most-recent financial earnings report released in May. At the same time, its broadcast and cable business posted a $1.828 billion profit on revenue of $6.625 billion during the same period.

Prior to Disney’s layoffs, the company counted more than 220,000 employees worldwide, including at its theme parks and subsidiary entertainment brands Pixar and Marvel Studios. The 7,000 pink slips issued over the last three months accounted for a little more than 3 percent of its workforce.

When the dust settles, Disney is hoping the cost cuts will help it save around $3 billion annually. That figure will be partially offset by a continued investment in live sports rights in the United States and abroad.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).