In a months-long goal to reach 7,000 job cuts total, Disney will begin its second round of layoffs of the year today. The notifications will be handed out to staff through Thursday, concluding with approximately 4,000 job eliminations completed overall by week’s end, according to company officials.
While the Disney workforce will be reduced by thousands across divisions Disney Entertainment, ESPN, and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (hourly frontline operations roles at Parks and Resorts will not be affected), and locations from Burbank to New York and Connecticut, there are still more layoffs to come.
According to Disney, a third and final wave of cuts is expected to begin ahead of the summer, which will bring the Mouse House to its 7,000 layoffs target. (The figure represents 3.2% of Disney’s total headcount of about 220,000 worldwide as of Oct. 1, 2022.)
Details regarding specific departments and positions affected by the layoffs will come throughout the week. ESPN cuts are said to make up a portion of the notices given out Monday, though no number has been confirmed by the Jimmy Pitaro-run division. On Tuesday, Variety has heard Disney Entertainment will be the most affected, with layoffs across ABC, Hulu, FX, Disney Channel, Freeform and the studio divisions, among others.
“These are hard decisions and not ones we take lightly – but every decision has been made with considerable thought, and we are doing everything we can to make sure this process is conducted with respect and compassion,” co-chairman of Disney Entertainment Alan Bergman and Dana Walden said in a memo to staff Monday. “The senior leadership teams have been working diligently to define our future organization, and our biggest priority has been getting this right, rather than getting it done fast. We recognize that it has been a period of uncertainty and thank you all for your understanding and patience.”
Disney first announced its sweeping layoffs plan in February, soon after Bob Iger returned as CEO upon the ousting of Bob Chapek. Iger was quick to implement a cost-saving strategy, with the first round of staff reductions begun March 27.
The second round of layoffs that begins today is said to include “several-thousand more staff reductions” than the first wave.
The layoffs are part of Disney’s efforts to achieve about $5.5 billion in cost savings. Of that, $2.5 billion represents “non-content costs” (including labor costs) and $1 billion of those targeted cost-reductions were already underway in February, Iger said. Disney is aiming for an annualized reduction of $3 billion in non-sports content costs, expected to be realized over the next several years, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said.
See below for Bergman and Walden’s Monday memo to employees regarding the second round of layoffs below.
As you all know, a few weeks ago the company began notifying employees whose roles are impacted as part of our overall business realignment and cost-savings efforts. We wanted to share that notifications will continue in many areas of the company over the next several days. In addition, restructuring in various businesses will continue for the next couple of months, and we do anticipate there will be further impacts before the summer, as previously shared. Each team is in a different place in this process, and your leaders will be sharing more context for your group soon.
These are hard decisions and not ones we take lightly – but every decision has been made with considerable thought, and we are doing everything we can to make sure this process is conducted with respect and compassion. The senior leadership teams have been working diligently to define our future organization, and our biggest priority has been getting this right, rather than getting it done fast. We recognize that it has been a period of uncertainty and thank you all for your understanding and patience.
This is a time of transition for Disney, and these changes affect everyone, whether or not your role is impacted. We are committed to supporting you through this period and encourage you to reach out to your leader or HR partner with any questions or for guidance, as needed.
While we are confident that these efforts will better position us for the future, we realize this all takes a toll. We want to acknowledge the impact of this moment and simply reiterate our appreciation for all of you and the passion and dedication you’ve brought to the work we do every day. And for those who will be leaving the company, please know that your contributions are valued and appreciated – you have all played a meaningful role in making Disney what it is today.
Alan & Dana
Here is Pitaro’s memo to his ESPN team.
As Bob Iger previously said, Disney is reducing its workforce by approximately 7,000 jobs as part of a strategic and streamlined realignment. Today I am sharing the difficult news that we are beginning to notify ESPN employees whose positions are impacted.
As we advance as a core segment of Disney, with operational control and financial responsibility, we must further identify ways to be efficient and nimble. We will continue to focus our workforce on initiatives that are most closely aligned with our critical priorities and emphasize decision-making and responsibility deeper into the organization. That said, I do not want to minimize the enormous toll of saying goodbye to dedicated colleagues that have worked tirelessly to strengthen ESPN and deliver for sports fans. The people of ESPN, and their constant resolve to get the job done, to excel and to innovate, have built this place. We will act with compassion, respect for our colleagues, and professionalism as we face these hard circumstances.
Employees in this wave will hear from their leader and HR partner this week. We will have another wave of notifications that will be completed by the start of the summer for those that are not in front-facing talent roles.
To those that will be leaving ESPN, I want to thank you for your many contributions and reinforce that the company is here to support you during this challenging transition. Please reach out to your HR Partner if you have any questions.
While these decisions were made with considerable thought, I also want to recognize that we understand that this has been a long – but thorough – process with a lot of uncertainty. This type of action impacts everyone. Thank you for your continued patience.
ESPN has been built on camaraderie, resilience, and a collective passion to serve sports fans. Those values are crucial during tough times. Please continue to be supportive of each other.