Disney on Wednesday announced plans to eliminate some 7,000 jobs as it embarks on a broad effort to rein in expenses, making it the latest high-profile company to slash workers amid global economic uncertainty.
The layoffs are part of drive to cut $5.5 billion in costs across Disney, Iger said. He outlined a reorganization that seeks, among other things, to “return creativity to the center of the company” and make its streaming business profitable.
In November, Iger stunned the entertainment world when he returned to the top of Disney, replacing Bob Chapek, whose short tenure was marked by the pandemic struggles and public relations misfires. Iger’s return was seen as a move to restore the company to a golden age that he helped usher in, even as the company faced major obstacles including a cooling streaming market, a hobbled theatrical business and some of Disney’s biggest franchises — such as Marvel — being in a state of flux. Iger at the time promised a return to what he described as the company’s creative “heart and soul.”
Iger on Wednesday cast the job cuts as a necessary part of a “transformation” that includes restructuring the company into three main segments: ESPN; theme parks; and entertainment, including movies and the Disney Plus streaming service.
Streaming is instrumental to the company’s future success, Iger said.
“There’s a lot to accomplish, but let me be clear — this is my number-one priority,” he said, adding that the company aims to make Disney Plus profitable by the end of 2024.
Disney Plus lost 2.4 million subscribers from October through December, the company said Wednesday as part of its quarterly earnings report.
Disney still generated revenue of $23.5 billion for the quarter, an 8 percent jump compared to the same period last year. Disney shares rose more than 5 percent in after-hours trading.
Disney’s layoffs come as other notable companies have slashed swaths of workers in recent months — particularly those in the tech, finance and housing sectors, which are more sensitive to the rising cost of borrowing due to higher interest rates. Despite the high-profile layoffs, unemployment remains at its lowest in decades.