WarnerMedia’s Jason Kilar Touts CNN, HBO Max At Post-Layoff Town Hall

Nellie Andreeva
·3 min read

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar addressed company employees at a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday, which followed the latest round of layoffs at the media company yesterday.

Kilar, joined by James Cummings, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, and Christy Haubegger, EVP and Head of Marketing & Communications, opened the hourlong meeting by acknowledging Veterans Day and paying homage to those who have served the country, sources said.

Through some technical glitches early on, I hear Kilar spoke about the painful, gut-wrenching experience of letting people go. He did not provide a count, but hundreds of employees are believed to have exited via layoffs and buyouts yesterday in the completion of a major staff reduction that started with August 10 cuts.

Attendees were reminded of the grim reality of layoffs by getting Deadline’s breaking news alert on Jim Gallagher’s exit as EVP Marketing in Warner Bros.’ Animation & Family unit in the middle of the town hall.

Kilar, who I hear explained the recent reorganization and significant layoffs with the massive impact the Internet has had on how customers choose to be served content, stressed that the worse is over. He confirmed that WarnerMedia is done with layoffs domestically, sources said. (Because of regulatory rules, some cuts internationally take longer to implement.)

Leaning into WarnerMedia’s core strength of storytelling, the company is positioned to excel, according to Kilar.

“If we have the conviction and courage, we will be bigger than the company has ever has been,” he reportedly said.

During the Q&A portion of the town hall, in which the three speakers took turns answering questions, Kilar was asked to address speculation that CNN may be on the block. He didn’t explicitly say no, but appeared bullish on the cable news network, highlighting its recent ratings success during the final stretch of the election cycle and speaking of the net’s importance to the future, I hear.

Kilar also was bullish on HBO Max. He trumpeted the fact that the new streamer has added 2.1 million paying customers, not converted HBO subscribers, in the past 90 days versus 177,000 for incumbent Netflix (which, of course, has a massive base to which new subscribers are added).

He again was asked about the fact that HBO Max is not on Roku or Amazon Fire, reiterating that “to say that area is important to us is an understatement,” with sources saying he expressed confidence the platform will eventually get carriage on both services because it is good for both sides.

Asked about the high price of HBO Max, Kilar called it a good value proposition and he also spoke about plans for international expansion — without providing specifics, I hear.

HBO, which is helping to power HBO Max, also got a shout-out I hear, with Kilar touting the premium cable network’s new buzzy limited series The Undoing.

On other subjects, Kilar also reportedly stressed how important culture is for the new WarnerMedia after the company went through a number of controversies over the last couple of years.

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