Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Cynthia Littleton on March 26, 2019.
… On March 21, dozens of 21st Century Fox executives were given pink slips in the first wave of what is expected to be as many as 4,000 layoffs across the units Disney acquired and at Fox Corp.
The layoffs are the human toll of the merger designed to fortify Disney and help it stay competitive in the fast-changing media and entertainment marketplace of the future. Disney has pledged to achieve $2 billion in synergy savings by 2021. There is no question that a great deal of that will come from job cuts.
The layoffs also reflect the evolution of the business itself. Some of the cuts were made to avoid duplication with existing Disney operations. But many came from areas that are far less vital than they once were to the work of producing, marketing and distributing content. International sales and distribution, marketing and administrative support jobs that were once central to the smooth functioning of the movie and TV supply chain are less important in a world of global streaming platforms.
Disney now plans to funnel a great deal of its content to its nascent Disney Plus and related streaming platforms. It doesn’t need as many boots on the ground in local markets — whether Kansas City or Kazakhstan — to strike the best deals with local buyers. Technological innovations and automation have also allowed for the streamlining of jobs that were formerly labor-intensive in terms of tracking money, ratings, advertising guarantees, marketing impressions, and technical specs for broadcast and satellite transmissions, as well as a host of other positions. …